Apple Announces Hands-Free Unlocking for Homes, Remains Unusable for Now

Apple announced a new feature for smart locks in its upcoming iOS 18 at WWDC ’24. The hands-free unlocking feature uses Ultra Wideband (UWB) to enable automatic unlocking as users approach their doors with a compatible iPhone or Apple Watch.

Current smart lock solutions often rely on a combination of Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE), Wi-Fi, and GPS for unlocking.

These methods can sometimes be unreliable. UWB technology is a more direct and secure communication channel between the phone/watch and the lock.

However, the existing smart locks won’t be compatible with this new feature because they lack the necessary UWB hardware.

Image: U-tec

People interested in using hands-free unlocking will need to purchase a new smart lock with UWB capabilities. The earliest availability of these UWB-enabled locks is expected by the end of 2024.

While the wait for compatible hardware might be a drawback, UWB technology makes up for it. Besides unlocking, the precise location data provided by UWB could enable more automation, such as lights adjusting automatically based on a user’s movement within the home.

As The Verge reported, the smart home industry is also developing a universal standard called Aliro, which includes UWB for unlocking alongside existing technologies like BLE and NFC. So, UWB would not be limited to just Apple’s HomeKit.

Overall, the broader adoption of UWB within the smart home industry holds promise for future advancements in automation and convenience.

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