How my first Matter upgrade experience went – Stacey on IoT

How my first Matter upgrade experience went – Stacey on IoT

After three years of waiting, I finally upgraded some of my smart home devices to Matter. I was ultimately successful, but there were a few twists and turns to navigate. To be fair, the Matter deployment is literally happening right now. And some of the apps needed to experience Matter are in beta status. So I wouldn’t rush to try it just yet unless you have time, patience and the right devices.

In my case, I used two Eve devices that I reviewed before. The Eve Energy Smart Plug and Eve Motion Sensor are currently Mater upgradeable. I also used my iPhone 12 with iOS 16.2, a Google Pixel 7 and a second generation Google Nest Hub. From a software perspective, I have early access to a beta Eve app, which anyone can sign up for. And I’ve been using the Google Home app on my Pixel 7 since it was just upgraded to support Matter.

At this point, both Eve devices appeared in the Eve app, the Apple Home app with my other HomeKit devices, and in Google Home on my Android phone. I can also see and control them on the Nest Hub, either by touch or by voice. And that’s where an important Matter advantage comes in, because until now Eve devices have been exclusive to the Apple HomeKit ecosystem. Today I asked the Google Assistant to turn Eve’s smart plug on and off and it just worked.

But getting to that point didn’t just work, though. In fact, it took me a fair amount of work.

I started with the smart plug that controls my Christmas tree lights and upgraded to Matter in the Eve beta app. I was warned that once the firmware to enable Matter is installed on the plug, I won’t be able to control it directly in HomeKit. Keep this in mind if you decide to go this route.

Image courtesy of KC Tofel

The firmware upgrade went without a hitch. Interestingly, the device has been assigned a new QR code specifically for Matter. The old HomeKit code cannot be used with this device. This is a bit of a challenge because each HomeKit device has a unique code on it to begin with. If you ever remove a HomeKit device and need to add it back, the code is always available on, or inside, the device.

After a Matter upgrade, that HomeKit code is useless. And as part of the upgrade process, you must save or print an image of the new Matter code. It might be a bit challenging for some people to keep all these new QR codes for future use, but you will have to.

Continuing the process, I scanned the new code into the Eve app. Unfortunately, adding the device could fail after a few minutes of trying. I also tried with the Apple Home app but no success. It took a few helpful conversations with an Eve Home representative to try and figure out what was wrong.

While I was waiting for the back-and-forth conversation, I decided to try upgrading my Eve Motion sensor. Again, the firmware upgrade worked fine, I got a new Matter QR code, and then… no luck adding the device in either the Eve or Apple Home apps. I took a different approach and used the Google Home app and… it worked! The latest version of Google Home does support the addition of Matter devices, which Google announced earlier this week.

I can control my Christmas tree lights connected to the Eve Energy with a Nest Hub. Image courtesy of KC Tofel

At that point, the Eve Motion was showing on my phone and on my Nest Hub. Thinking it might “rejigger” the Eve and Apple Home apps, I tried it again. Sure enough, this time the Eve Motion was added to both iOS apps and I had control of the device from two ecosystems.

Google Home on Android connects to the Eve Energy plug. Image courtesy of KC Tofel

I still struggled a bit with the Eve Energy Smart Plug. In the end I reset it by pressing and holding its LED button for 10 seconds. Unfortunately, the Eve and Apple Home apps still couldn’t connect to it. However, scanning the device’s unique QR code in Google Home did the trick. And after that I was able to add it to the iOS apps as well.

I really didn’t expect Google’s app to work when the iOS apps struggled a bit. However, it shows why matter is so important: it opens up devices to various smart home ecosystems.

If it wasn’t, I’d have two less devices in my house right now because they simply disappeared from HomeKit and Eve after the Matter firmware upgrade. I am not an apologist for some of the challenges I have had; it is simply a fact.

However, it’s clear that as the Matter device upgrade begins on a widespread basis, there will be some pain points. This is something I expected: Getting numerous companies to work together on a common protocol for previously hacked devices isn’t going to happen without a few bumps and bruises. Hopefully, device manufacturers learn from early experiences like mine and improve the process.

I should note that while I didn’t lose any automations I had set up before, one did break. I use the Eve smart plug to turn on my Christmas tree lights at sunset and then turn them off at 11pm. The automation is still intact, but it is not connected to a device: I will have to add the plugin again for automation.

I don’t really mind, though: Being able to voice control an Eve plug with a Nest Hub using Google Assistant makes me so happy I can fix the automation myself.

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