We’ve seen no shortage of smart door locks over the years, but it seems as if the giants in the industry are starting to wake up to the future as well. At CES, keeping-the-doors-closed giant Schlage introduced its Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt, which introduces the ability to open your doors at a touch of your phone or Apple Watch.
The technology is built on Apple’s recent Home Key innovations, introduced in iOS 15. The tech enables you to add a house key to your Apple Wallet, which uses NFT technology to communicate with the locks around you. A tap of your phone or Apple Watch (dramatically exclaiming “Open Sesame” or “Open Schlage” is presumably optional, although the company’s press release didn’t specify whether that was the case), and you’re in.
A lot of the advantages from the technology come from being able to distribute keys easily — you can give a guest a temporary key to your home; for example if your dog walker needs to bring Fido back after you’ve had to run out for a cappuccino, or the plumber turns up earlier than expected and is threatening to leave unless they can get access to your place.
The Schlage Encode Plus lock is among the first to support Apple’s latest enhancement to the HomeKit experience with home keys capability. I think it’s a welcome addition to the ecosystem; Schlage has 100 years of lock-making experience, and when it comes to smart home tech, it’s often easier to add smarts to products that work great in the first place, than building a whole product around a helping of Bluetooth and IoT chipsets.
“Throughout our 100-year history, we have remained committed to revolutionizing the user experience with convenient and secure home access our customers can trust,” said Dave Ilardi, general manager at Schlage, a brand of Allegion. “We’re excited about our collaboration with Apple that brings together two highly regarded brands with a history and reputation for delivering innovation to the connected home. The Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt provides homeowners with an even simpler and secure way to access their homes. This is just another step in our vision to create purposeful experiences that deliver simplicity and peace of mind.”
The cool thing is that the technology in question still works in “power reserve” mode, which means that even if your phone or Apple Watch is on its last breath, it can still be used to open the doors for a few additional hours.
Apart from the tap-to-open wizardry, the Schlage Encode Plus lock is pretty similar, features-wise, to the Schlage Encode Wi-Fi enabled lock; you’re still able to check whether your doors are locked, and lock/unlock from your phone. You can set up access codes from the app with certain time windows, so you can give someone access for a particular time slot with a certain code, whether permanent, temporary or recurring. The locks also keep real-time activity logs, so you can see which code has been used to open which lock, and when. The lock also supports Siri, Google Assistant and Alexa for lock control.
The tap to unlock feature is only available through Apple’s home keys feature, which is only available on iOS or Apple Watch devices, so Android users will have to make do without that feature for now, although of course they would be able to use Google Assistant or the Schlage app to control the locks.
The Schlage Encode Plus Smart WiFi Deadbolt will be available for purchase late this spring and will retail for $299.99.