Google's commitment to Matter could unite the fragmented smart home industry

The company's smart speakers and displays will support the open ecosystem.

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Google Smart Home I/O 2021 updates. A graphic showing different smart home devices overlapping each other.
Google

Google announced a giant slew of updates to its various software products at its I/O developer conference this week, and in addition to Android, Wear, Assistant and a ton of other news, it's not forgetting about the smart home. At the show, the company shared a few updates around its Nest and Android products that focus on a commitment to the recently renamed Matter ecosystem.

As a recap, Matter was formerly known as Project CHIP, or Connected Home over IP. It's a collaboration between industry giants like Google, Amazon, Apple, Samsung and more to standardize the historically fragmented smart home ecosystem. Matter will support a variety of protocols and assistants, including Siri, Alexa, the Google Assistant as well as Bluetooth, Ethernet, WiFi and Thread. At I/O, Google said it's "committed to supporting Matter" and that it's "bringing Matter to Android and capable Nest products." 

Matter will bring about simpler setup processes and interoperability, and with this your Android phone can control all compatible Matter devices once support rolls out on a wider scale. Theoretically, this means you can use an Android device to control an Echo or HomeKit-powered speaker, for instance. 

According to Google, Android will offer built-in support for Matter as well as ways to easily set up and control Matter-certified devices. It also announced that its products with Thread, including the Nest Wifi, Nest Hub Max and Nest Hub (2nd generation), "will become connection points for Matter devices." Plus, Nest displays and speakers will be "automatically updated to control Matter devices," which Google promised will lead to "faster and more reliable experiences whether they use Wi-Fi, Thread or ethernet."

To help users keep track of everything that's compatible with Assistant, Google's also launching a smart home directory that will include tutorial videos, product reviews and ratings. You'll be able to search via keywords or use filters to narrow results down to see what devices best fit your needs.

In addition, Google is adding support for WebRTC to reduce latency for live video and audio streaming from security cameras or video doorbells to your TVs, displays or phones. Companies like Logitech, Arlo, Wyze and Netatmo are expected to integrate WebRTC with Google Assistant in the coming weeks. Finally, the company is also improving its Home and Away routines by enabling automatic activation of your smart home processes based on when you leave or return to your house. 

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