Matter is a new industry standard, which is supposed to make it easier to add devices from different brands as long as they are all matter certified. It also allows everything to run locally. But the rollout has been pretty rocky throughout 2023, for example, it was working with SmartThings for a couple of months and then a few weeks ago, it seems to have broken if you are using the iOS app to add new matter devices. Sigh. It’s just been one bump after another. The goals are good, it’s just not clear to me that we’re going to get there.
There’s a good and interesting thread in the forum that discusses matter in much detail.
Matter - smart home connectivity standard (formerly Project CHIP)
Technically, there’s no such thing as a “matter hub“ because matter occurs in the application layer, a level above where hub messaging occurs. That’s why you have matter over Wi-Fi, matter over thread, and matter over bridges (which can bring in Zigbee devices if there’s a compatible matter bridge for them).
So what you need is a “matter controller“ and a “matter commissioner“. Quite a few companies have been adding matter controller capabilities into their existing hubs, including SmartThings. The big three voice assistants have also been adding matter controller capabilities to their smart speakers, at least some models. That includes Amazon echo devices, Google nest devices, and apple HomePod mini.
So far, all the matter commissioners, that I’ve seen have been apps.
The following community FAQ explains all the terms in the context of what you would need to use matter devices with SmartThings, but I think it will be helpful for your overall questions as well:
FAQ: What do I need to add a Matter device to the SmartThings app? Do I need a bridge router device?
Right now, each of the individual home automation platforms has only partially implemented matter, and they’ve all done it with different parts, so it’s just sort of a mess. And confusing.
Smartthings was probably the most advanced as far as matter support right up until they broke it in November. So I don’t know what to say about that.
From the beginning, matter has worked best with Apple home As long as you had an iOS phone or tablet to go with it. SmartThings was unusual in working pretty well with both iOS and Android, but it did lag behind Apple in some features, but usually only by a month or so.
Anyway, everyone from IKEA to Tuya is promising some kind of matter support, but no one is 100% there yet, so I can’t really choose a “best for matter“ option at this time.
(Yet another example of weird partial implementations: hubitat has added matter support to its platform, but because it doesn’t have a Bluetooth radio and the matter specification requires Bluetooth for adding a device for the first time, even if that device is then going to use Wi-Fi or thread, in order to use matter devices with hubitat you have to first add them to Apple home, or Google Nest, or SmartThings, and then share the startup code from that platform for the device. After that it will work fine with hubitat., So, like I said, a mess.)
Sorry, I know that’s not really an answer, but it’s the best I can do right now.
I think it’s fine if you decide that you’re not going to worry about zwave, or you’re going to wait until there’s a Z wave to matter bridge to worry about zwave.
In that case, these would be the platforms I would put on a candidate list without knowing more details about your requirements:
if you have iOS devices, Apple home is now a very solid home automation platform, and matter is already giving Apple home users a wider selection of inexpensive candidate devices, which was the biggest knock against it previously. Everything runs locally, the app is nice, you can get advanced rules by adding the third-party “home +” App, and excellent matter support. But I think it’s just too expensive if you aren’t already using iOS devices. Oh, and it’s also very suitable for non-technical users. Personally, I really like the combination of an inexpensive Aqara hub and Apple home, and that’s what runs most of my mission critical use cases at my own house. But I was already using iOS devices.
for programmers, home assistant has matured a lot in the last two years, and is a definite candidate. Open source, tons of features, obviously very inexpensive, But it does require a lot of technical skills. Most programmers will say about a month after they started that they wish they had done it sooner. Many non-programmers give up in that same first two or three weeks because everything just feels too overwhelming. So this is very much a YMMV candidate.
as previously mentioned, hubitat is for power users, And most of those like everything about it, except the lack of polished app. You may be able to compensate for that by either using it in combination with SmartThings, or with the third-party app sharptools. But you’re probably still going to have to get into quite a few technical questions and conversations. Also, as mentioned above the matter support is weird.
Amazon Alexa is a decent home automation platform for many people now that routines are much more capable, although still super basic compared to the other platforms. But long-term it should have good matter support, you get a huge selection of devices to consider and it’s pretty stable. if you use matter devices with it those should run locally, so that’s a big plus over just using it as a cloud platform. I think it would be a step backwards for you if you’re used to smartthings, particularly in the rules engine, but it’s certainly grown into a platform that works for a lot of people.
homey pro. I feel like I have to mention this one because it’s the up-and-coming thing right now, but I like the product a lot more in Europe than I do in North America because in Europe it includes 433 MHz support and it doesn’t in the US. They use a lot of fairly goofy workarounds from an engineering standpoint, so there’s some HomeKit support, but they can’t call it that (their documentation has a lot of “we like apples. Wink, wink“ type comments). And they seem to be doing something similar with matter. I don’t really know what to say about them, to be honest, but there are some community members here who have that so maybe they’ll comment further.
It is more user-friendly than home assistant for sure, And certainly no worse than hubitat in that regard. The rules engine seems to be pretty good. I just always feel like when I’m reading about it that there’s a million *’s I have to chase down in order to figure out what features it actually provides in any given situation. It’s also expensive compared to most of the others. (Oh, and they’ve changed their naming several times, so what “Homey pro” was in 2021 is not the same as what it is now. So again, you have to read everything very carefully.)
- ikea Dirigera. I feel like I also have to mention this because they keep promising that someday they’re going to deliver what everybody wants: a full featured matter controller and bridge with a user-friendly app and full support. But right now it is none of those things and there’s no specific timeline for when it will be. So right now, it’s a Zigbee hub for devices of its own brand and that’s about it. But if you read blog articles about matter, you’ll probably see it mentioned a lot even though nothing‘s been delivered yet.
I know: not very helpful. But that’s the state of matter right now.