Why Apple, Amazon and Google are uniting on smart-home tech: matter explained

Some of tech’s biggest players—Apple Inc., Alphabet Inc.’s Google, Amazon.com Inc. and Samsung Electronics Co.—have established smart-home platforms, so your iPhone can turn off the lights or Alexa can change the thermostat without too much extra setup. But that still means shoppers must check if new products work with the tech they already have at home.

Compatibility issues and setup complexity have made people slow to go all-in with smart-home technology. A new standard, called Matter, aims to change that.

When it rolls out this year, Matter will act as a common language spoken by most new—and many older—smart-home products. You could buy any gadget you wanted and connect it to whichever app you prefer. You’ll be able to control it with the voice assistant of your choice, or even use multiple assistants and apps inside your home.

Even though Matter would work behind the scenes, it could mean more affordable devices that are…

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