In the near future, you will have the capability to manage an LG device using Samsung’s application, and conversely

capability to manage an LG device using Samsung's application and conversely

The current trend in the smart home industry revolves around compatibility. Initially, Matter facilitated cooperation among tech giants like Apple, Amazon, Google, and Samsung. Now, major appliance manufacturers such as LG, Samsung, GE, and Vestel are joining forces.

During the IFA tech show in Berlin, LG and Samsung revealed plans to enable their respective smart home applications to control each other’s appliances and TVs before the end of 2024. This means that LG’s ThinQ app will be able to inform you if you left your Samsung Family Hub smart fridge door open, and Samsung’s SmartThings app can set your LG washer to delicate mode. Moreover, you’ll have the capability to control each company’s TVs using their competitors’ apps.

This collaboration is the result of the Home Connectivity Alliance (HCA), a coalition formed in late 2021 with Samsung as one of the founding members. It was established shortly after the Connectivity Standards Alliance introduced Matter to ensure smart home interoperability, focusing specifically on large appliances.

The HCA utilizes cloud-to-cloud communication to enable Wi-Fi-connected appliances, ranging from washers, dryers, fridges, ovens, robot vacuum cleaners, televisions, to HVAC systems, to communicate with each other. This means that if you own home appliances from different HCA member brands, you’ll only need one app to control them all and receive notifications about tasks such as your laundry’s completion or oven preheating. However, you’ll still need the manufacturer’s app to set up your appliance initially.

In January 2023, the HCA released its 1.0 specification, and now, eight months later, two of its largest members, Samsung and LG, are launching their implementations, with more expected to follow later this year and next, according to the HCA. Samsung and LG will introduce their implementations in Q4 in eight countries: Korea, the US, the UK, Germany, France, Italy, Spain, and Turkey.

One significant advantage of this interoperability, beyond convenience, is energy conservation. With all your home appliances feeding data into a single app, regardless of the manufacturer, it will be easier to monitor energy usage and implement energy-saving features. Energy management is planned for version 2.0, expected in 2024, which should also include support for electric vehicle (EV) chargers.

Initially, only LG, Samsung, and Vestel among the HCA’s 15 members are implementing compatibility, and this is limited to major appliance product categories. However, the plan is to gradually expand compatibility to other types of appliances.

Notably, some prominent names like Bosch & Thermador and Whirlpool are absent from the HCA membership. Additionally, this interoperability is confined to appliance manufacturer apps such as SmartThings and ThinQ and cannot be added to other smart home platforms like Apple Home, Google Home, and Amazon Alexa.

Nevertheless, this is a positive step forward and should contribute to improving the smart kitchen experience by replacing a collection of isolated apps with more efficient control and interoperability, streamlining chores and energy management.

Since this interoperability relies on cloud-to-cloud communication using Wi-Fi, it doesn’t require new hardware and is backward-compatible. If you already have Wi-Fi-connected Samsung or LG appliances, this will work for you.

The choice to focus on cloud-based implementation sets HCA apart from CSA and Matter, even though both organizations share a common goal. HCA President Yoon Ho Choi of Samsung mentioned at CES 2022 that they support Matter but are primarily focused on ensuring that existing appliances in people’s homes can be included without requiring new hardware. This decision aligns well with the cloud-based approach.

Moreover, the cloud-centric approach has benefits for collecting data from devices, something appliance manufacturers find valuable. While Matter primarily functions as a local protocol with optional cloud connectivity, the HCA standard is entirely reliant on the cloud. This can aid in diagnosing repair issues remotely and delivering updates, such as a mode for perfectly cooking a Thanksgiving turkey. Additionally, it benefits manufacturers by sharing valuable data, as highlighted in Consumer Reports’ in-depth analysis of smart appliances.

The cross-brand compatibility for Samsung and LG will be integrated into the Samsung SmartThings app and LG ThinQ app in Q4 2024, requiring a simple app update.