After more than a year since it was first announced, the August Smart Lock is finally going on sale. The device will be shipping to pre-order customers and will also be available for purchase on the August website and in Apple retail locations for $249.99.
The home automation company was founded by tech entrepreneur Jason Johnson and industrial designer Yves Behar, and announced its keyless entry system in May 2013. It’s taken a while, but August has worked out all the kinks and lined up distribution to make its smart lock available to consumers.
The lock is an aluminum cylinder that attaches to the back of a door’s deadbolt. Once that’s done, the keyless entry system is powered by a mobile app and connects to a user’s smartphone via Bluetooth LE.
With the app, users can add multiple locks and even multiple homes. They can also invite others and share virtual keys to unlock the door permanently or for a limited time period. Other key features of the device include the ability to automatically lock the deadbolt after a short period of time, and to unlock when an authorized user approaches.
My Life With The August Smart Lock
The ultimate goal is to provide flexibility around who can enter a home and when without having to hand out or issue keys. I had the chance to try out the August device, testing a review unit over the past few weeks. And while I wasn’t able to go truly keyless, my experience is not entirely similar to what the average user might expect.
For one thing, installation wasn’t as simple as one might expect… and much of the utility of the lock was negated by the fact that I have roommates and not all of them were willing or able to download the app to test it out with me.
To install the lock, you need only unscrew the back latch of your door’s deadbolt, attach a mounting plate and lock the August unit on top of it. I was able to do that well enough, in a process that took about 20 minutes from start to finish. But when I attempted to calibrate the lock, it wouldn’t budge.
I put a call into my contact at August, and was connected with a locksmith who recognized the issue was related to the positioning of the deadbolt directly below the door’s peephole. August has certified about 300 different installers around the country to take care of problems just like this, and mine was able to solve the problem in about 30 minutes.
Once installed, it was time to test out the lock itself. I found it easy enough to calibrate and set up, and invited my other roommates to take advantage of the keyless system. In that respect, I was slightly disappointed. Only one of my other roommates downloaded the app, and the others continued to use the lock on the doorknob.
The end result was that I wasn’t able to go purely keyless. My dream of using Auto-Unlock was stymied basically because my roommates are luddites.
That said, the August unit didn’t operate perfectly all the time. Every now and then it didn’t recognize my phone as I approached the door. One time I made it all the way to the door before realizing that I was no longer signed into the app for some reason.
There was also one late night when a stranger opened the door and walked into the house when August should have auto-locked the door. (The stranger was trying to enter our next-door neighbor’s house and didn’t realize he was at the wrong door.)
Should You Give It A Try?
The August Smart Lock didn’t work in my living situation, but that doesn’t mean it would be a bad device for another household, particularly for someone who lives alone or with other enthusiastic early adopters.
There’s a lot to like about August. It has a beautiful industrial design and is made out of solid aluminum. The Bluetooth connection works pretty seamlessly, and the ability to set your door to Auto-Lock is a pretty key feature in keeping people out of the house if you’re likely to forget.
And there are lots of practical applications for the device: Sharing a virtual key with a dog walker or house cleaner or anyone who needs occasional access, for instance, or if you occasionally rent out your place on Airbnb, then it could be really useful. It could also be a good way to let friends and family in for parties, or to have easy access to a vacation home.
At the $250 price point, however, August might be out of the price range for most casual users. That is, you better make sure that you — and everyone in your house — really wants to use it if you’re going to get one. If you do, you can find them at August.com or your local Apple Retail location.