From www.androidauthority.com

Android 15 will let you control your Matter smart home devices over Thread, but only on some phones

TL;DR

  • Android 15 is adding a Thread network stack that, on supported phones, will enable communicating with compatible smart home devices via Thread.
  • Thread is a low-power mesh networking protocol that’s specifically designed for smart home devices.
  • Apple’s iPhone 15 Pro and 15 Pro Max are the only mobile devices with a Thread radio right now, but they could be joined soon by some Android devices.

Building a smart home is supposed to make our lives easier, but managing smart home devices can be a chore, especially when you mix and match devices from different brands. That’s because many smart home devices only work with proprietary apps from their manufacturer. Those that do support one of the larger smart home ecosystems, like Google Home, Alexa, HomeKit, or SmartThings, are often stuck within their one ecosystem, limiting your device options. This is where the Matter smart home standard comes into play, a key component of which is the Thread mesh networking protocol, which will be supported on select mobile devices running Android 15.

Matter is a royalty-free connectivity standard developed by the Connectivity Standards Alliance, or CSA for short. The goal of Matter is to create an interoperable way for smart home devices to communicate with one another. With Matter, you can connect a Matter-certified smart home device, such as a light switch or thermostat, to a Matter-compatible app or hub, regardless of the manufacturer.

You can think of Matter as a universal language for smart home devices to communicate with. It doesn’t replace wireless communication protocols like Bluetooth or Wi-Fi but instead standardizes how smart home devices with those radios talk to one another.

While Bluetooth and Wi-Fi are great communication protocols because they’re so widely supported, Thread, the low-power mesh networking protocol designed specifically for Matter smart home devices, has several advantages when it comes to the smart home. Thread is not only very power efficient, which is a big deal for battery-powered smart home devices, but its mesh networking nature allows for devices to relay signals to one another and automatically adjust and route data more efficiently. This lets Thread offer a more robust and reliable connection that’s also easy to scale up.

However, Thread radios aren’t built into many devices yet, as opposed to Bluetooth and Wi-Fi which can be found in many existing devices and off-the-shelf parts. That’s set to change in the coming years, though, as more and more devices ship with Thread radios.

For example, earlier this year, Google announced that select televisions running the company’s Google TV software will be able to act as Thread border routers for the Google Home ecosystem. Thread border routers act as a bridge between devices on the Thread mesh network and your Wi-Fi network, essentially enabling Thread networks to connect to the Internet.

And last year, Apple announced that its iPhone 15 Pro and Pro Max have Thread radios, making them the first smartphones to do so. Android smartphones may not be too far behind the iPhone 15 Pro in including a Thread radio, though, as the upcoming Android 15 update adds support for a Thread network stack.

Android’s Thread network stack has been in the works since last year and has actually been backported to Android 14 already, specifically so Google TV devices running Android TV OS 14 can utilize it. However, Android smartphones won’t support the Thread network stack until the forthcoming Android 15 release, meaning we’ll only start seeing Android phones with Thread network support after Android 15’s release.

iPhone 15 Pro Max Thread radio

Phones running Android 15 that have a Thread radio, ship Android’s Thread network stack, and declare the feature flag indicating the device supports Thread will have a “Use Thread” toggle under Settings > Connected devices > Connection preferences > Thread. Although my Pixel 8 Pro doesn’t have a Thread radio, I managed to spoof the existence of one, tricking Android into displaying the Thread settings page, as shown below.

Android 15 thread network settings

Mishaal Rahman / Android Authority

Enabling Thread network support on a phone running Android 15 will allow that device to directly communicate with other Thread network devices, without the need for a separate Thread border router (like a Google TV device) to facilitate the communication. This could speed up certain smart home actions or even enable them to be run locally.

It remains to be seen which Android phones will actually ship with a Thread radio, but we likely won’t have to wait too long to start seeing some.

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    The post Android 15 will let you control your Matter smart home devices over Thread, but only on some phones first appeared on www.androidauthority.com

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