At this point, I could ditch my house key altogether, opting to let Siri play the role of gatekeeper to my humble abode. Then again, I’d be a single dead battery or lost iPhone away from being locked out.
Using a smartphone to unlock the door to your house isn’t new. In fact, August has had a product capable of such a feat for a few years now. But as the company launches its second-generation lock, things are getting a bit more complex for the smart home industry.
Doing just one thing really well is no longer appealing, so now August is offering a Doorbell Cam, Keypad entry and Apple HomeKit integration. And you know what? They’ve done a bang up job on all fronts.
Handyman not requiredUnlike competing smart locks I’ve tested in the past, installing August is a fairly straightforward process. Instead of completely dismantling your deadbolt, you only need to remove the back portion from the door and replace it with August. The benefits here are twofold. First, you don’t have to worry about replacing your current deadbolt keys. Second is the speed at which you can install the lock.
Similar smart lock solutions require you to replace the entire deadbolt setup and changing those out can be intimidating as well as challenging if you’ve never replaced a lock.
Inside the box is the lock, AA batteries, a small piece of tape, three adapters and a mounting plate. The installation guide walks you through the installation process with relative ease. I did get caught up trying to figure out the proper mounting plate configuration for my deadbolt; the illustrations included in the guide weren’t very clear. I was able to find the right alignment after some trial and error, though.
I had to remove a Kevo Smart Lock before installing August, so my installation time was far greater than what it would have been if I was going from a regular deadbolt to August. It’s fair to say a normal installation can be done in under 15 minutes, even for those with little experience working with locks.
Auto-unlockComing from the Kevo Smart Lock, I was accustomed to walking up to my door and touching the deadbolt. After waking up the lock with a touch, there was a slight delay as it tried to connect to my smartphone, verify who I was and then unlock my door. It was a delay I’d learned to live with.
With August, the process is different and much faster. Within the mobile app, you can enable the auto-unlock feature and designate your home area. August suggests setting this area to at least 200 meters.
Keep in mind, entering this area doesn’t mean your door automatically unlocks. It simply means your phone and the August app are now actively looking for your lock, in turn preparing to unlock it.
As I walked up to my front door, I felt my phone buzz in my pocket and a split second later I heard the door unlock. I didn’t have to touch a thing, it just worked.
The buzz in my pocket was an alert from the August app letting me know I was close enough to the lock that it was trying to unlock my door.
Within the August app you can share your lock with your spouse or friends, adding each one as a “Guest.” He or she is then able to control the lock’s current status, and if you grant them “Owner” permissions they are able to add more guests or enable auto-unlock on their smartphone.
There’s also an auto-lock feature within the app. You can set August to lock itself after it has been unlocked anywhere from 30 seconds to five minutes.
If auto-unlock sounds too scary, you can always unlock August using Siri (more on that, below) or by opening the August app and tapping a button to toggle the lock’s status.
Siri, unlock my door
The biggest change to the second-generation August Smart Lock is the addition of Apple’s HomeKit platform.
Using HomeKit, iOS users can control lights, thermostats and locks using Siri or a series of third-party HomeKit apps.
When adding the lock to your account in the August app, you’re asked if you want to connect the lock to HomeKit. You do so by scanning a short code located on the backside of the battery cover.
Once the code is scanned, the lock is linked to your Apple ID, and by extension, HomeKit. With everything connected, you can tell Siri things like “unlock my door,” “lock my door” or ask “is my door locked?”
As with any HomeKit-enabled device, you can create rules to turn lights on or off based on the status of your lock.
In order to use HomeKit when you’re away from home you’ll need a third of fourth generation Apple TV within Bluetooth range of the lock. In other words, if you want to ask Siri to check if you locked the front door at home while you’re out running errands, you’ll need an Apple TV.
August does sell a $79 Connect accessory that plugs into any outlet and acts as a Wi-Fi bridge, connecting to the lock via Bluetooth. Connect will give Android and iOS users remote access to view the lock’s status or control the lock within the August app.
Without some means for remote access, you’ll need to be within Bluetooth range (roughly 30 feet) to control your August Smart Lock from a smartphone.
Completely keylessThe $79 August Keypad isn’t a must-have accessory for the Smart Lock, but it’s a wise investment if you plan on letting friends and relatives into your home when you’re not around.
After linking the keypad to your August account, each user is assigned his or her own entry code. You can even tell the app to alert you when a specific code is used to unlock your door.
Additionally, you can set an emergency code for those times when you need to give someone access to your house, but don’t want to add him or her to the August app as a guest.
To use the keypad, enter your code and press the August logo at the bottom of the unit. A few seconds later, the door unlocks. Alternatively, you can lock your door on the way out by pressing the August button.
The keypad comes with a mounting plate and screws to install the small accessory next to your door.
August also offers a Doorbell Cam to replace your traditional doorbell. When someone presses the Doorbell Cam’s button, a push alert is sent to any smartphone connected to your August account. You can then view and talk with the person standing at your door, and if you need to, unlock your door to grant him or her access.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t able to test the Doorbell Cam due to incompatibility with my wired doorbell set up for 12V, while the Doorbell Cam requires a 24V connection.