Matter, the new smart home standard protocol, will now enable control of TV functions such as turning volume on and off, as well as supporting universal TV casting.
Matter was launched as a joint effort by Apple, Amazon, and Google after being announced in 2019 as a new smart home standard that enables information sharing between different ecosystems and devices. In effect, Matter is a way for many devices to interoperate together, achieving a standardization across many different brands.
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An Amazon-led casting standard
Apple, Amazon, Google, IKEA, and Samsung have already signed up for the protocol. According to the folks at The Verge (opens in new tab), Matter will be able to control core TV functions, alongside a new universal casting system – one that's reported to let you share content from some of the best phones, best tablets, or best laptop devices to your TV screen. Such a universal casting system (should it become a reality) could possibly rival the likes of Google's Chromecast and Apple Airplay.
Leading the charge for the specification across TVs is Amazon, which doesn't have its own proprietary cast system despite its being a massive player in the smart home sector. With Amazon at the helm of the casting initiative, it would bring them a solid alternative to AirPlay 2 and Chromecast. According to the report, Apple, Google, Samsung are not obliged to adopt Matter's TV specification; however, should they choose to, it would mean having to adopt it fully including TV control and casting.
A Matter of time
Apple hasn't commented further on its plans in relation to Matter, but Google said that "Google Assistant will support Matter (eg. on/off, play/pause, app launch etc.) at parity with our current Works With Assistant offering" – though it also noted that Chromecast will remain its primary method of sharing media to Chromecast, TVs, and speakers. In comments to The Verge, Chris DeCenzo, Principal Software Development Engineer at Amazon Lab126, said that there remain several disparate and proprietary protocols, calling it "a complete opportunity loss for everyone."
Matter's TV specification would aim to achieve what it already has done in delivering interoperability amongst smart home devices from various brands, meaning users could control their best TV setups using any device, irrespective of remote, the brand of smartphone, or voice assistant. With Amazon's recent foray into self-branded TVs, leading on this initiative is a clear signal of its plans as we move into 2020, with it hoping to build upon its already-strong position in the TV sector.