The new Wemo Smart Dimmer Switch with Thread is for Apple’s HomeKit only – The Verge
Wemo, the smart home arm of Belkin, announced an updated version of its in-wall dimmer switch this week. The new Wemo Smart Dimmer with Thread ($59.99) is a wired smart switch that lets you dim and turn lights on and off remotely. It works exclusively with Apple’s HomeKit platform over Thread or Bluetooth and is available now from Belkin’s web store (and coming soon to Amazon).
This HomeKit focus follows a recent trend for the company, whose last few products — the Wemo Stage Scene Controller, smart plug, and video doorbell — only work with Apple’s smart home platform. This means the new switch will use the Apple Home app exclusively (and not the Wemo app), and will work with Siri for voice control.
“When Matter launches later this year, we will bring to market new switches/dimmers that support Matter over Thread.”
Despite using Thread, the main wireless protocol for Matter, and having publicly announced it would launch new Matter-ready devices this summer, Wemo says the Smart Dimmer won’t be upgraded to support the upcoming smart home standard.
“As of right now, the Dimmer with Thread will not be upgradable to Matter via firmware update when the new standard launches later this year,” Cassie Pineda, a spokesperson for Belkin, told The Verge in an email. “When Matter launches later this year, we will bring to market new switches / dimmers that support Matter over Thread.”
While it seems redundant to release two almost identical versions of the same product in the same year, Pineda said the reasoning is that the dimmer launching today supports HomeKit over Thread, “providing consumers with a more responsive, reliable, and secure smart home experience without the hassle of third-party apps,” she said. Matter’s delay (it was originally scheduled to launch this summer), may have also contributed to this split ecosystem.
The new $60 Wemo Smart Dimmer switch will work with Apple’s HomeKit.
The new Smart Dimmer doesn’t replace the current Wemo Smart Dimmer Switch, which is still available and works over Wi-Fi. That is compatible with Amazon Alexa, Google Home, and Apple HomeKit, and only costs around $40.
The biggest change with the new version, beyond being exclusive to Apple’s platform, is the use of Thread rather than Wi-Fi for connectivity. Thread is a wireless protocol specifically built for smart home devices; it’s designed to be faster and more reliable, as well as use less power than Wi-Fi.
Because the Smart Dimmer uses HomeKit over Thread, you need an Apple HomePod Mini or Apple TV 4K (second gen) to act as Thread border router for the switch. A forthcoming update to Thread will open up border routers from different manufacturers to work together, but the Wemo Switch can only work with Apple’s border routers.
If you don’t have a Mini or newer Apple TV, you can still use the Smart Dimmer over Bluetooth. For this, you would just need an iPhone for local control and an Apple Home hub (an iPad or any model of Apple TV …….