A little over a week ago, I received an August Smart Lock to review, and I’ve been putting it through its paces ever since.
If you’re not familiar with the product, it’s a…well, unsurprisingly, it’s a lock that you install on the back of your existing deadbolt. Using Bluetooth, it can unlock itself automatically when you get home, and you can send electronic keys to your friends or your cleaning lady and define how long those keys’ll function. August has a marketing video on their website for you curious souls out there.
(And hey—before you consider buying one, it’s important to know whether your existing door hardware will work with it. Check out their list of compatible deadbolts first.)
On to the review! Let’s start with the installation. I’m a fairly non-handy person, and even I thought it was easy. The device comes with mounting plates and adapters, and an online guide instructs you on how to find the pieces that’ll fit your lock.
The big blue “M” is tape that’ll keep your lock in place while you unscrew the back of it. Just in case you were wondering what that weird thing is.
So what I had to do was remove the back of my existing deadbolt, fit on the correct plate and adapter, insert the lock into place, and install the included four AA batteries.
From the outside, my door looks exactly the same, and here’s the view from the inside:
If you’ll please ignore the fact that my door apparently needs both painting and cleaning, that’d be great.
Once the lock was installed, I downloaded the free app to calibrate and control it. You’ve gotta walk through a relatively lengthy process of setting up an account and getting a verification code on your iPhone, and anyone that you send a virtual key to will have to follow similar steps—which led to a bit of consternation among my friends.
Just be aware that if you’re sending a key to a non-techie, it may require a bit of handholding on your part.
Anyhow, when your lock is ready to go, it’s easy to check the status of your door from within the app and lock or unlock it if you’re home.
If you send someone an electronic key, you can configure when he has access to your home and whether to receive notifications when he enters or leaves.
Another fun feature is that you can see the lock’s activity, which’ll let you keep track of who has entered your house and when. I suggest that you really, really trust anyone whose permissions you set to “owner,” by the way. I mean, if your spouse can see every time you leave, you’d better be on your best behavior.
There are a couple of settings available in the app that I’ve found especially handy. One of them, called “Everlock,” allows you to set a specific amount of time before the August relocks itself.
The second one, dubbed “Auto-Unlock,” does what you’d think—it keeps track of your iPhone’s location and unlocks your door when you approach from outside.
In my testing, this has been pretty much seamless. I can hear the deadbolt disengage when I step up on my front stoop, which is about three feet from the door. So I never have to touch my door to have it lock and unlock when I need it to, which is kinda awesome.
My only real complaint about the device is that it isn’t Wi-Fi capable (meaning that you can’t see the status of your lock when you’re away from home). I assume the reason for that is the power usage requirements—users would probably be changing out the batteries a lot more often if it had Wi-Fi. As it is, the lock will notify you when its batteries are low, and you can still unlock your door manually if you have to.
All in all, I highly recommend the August Smart Lock, especially to folks who would benefit from not having to fiddle with keys (such as parents of small children). It’s pricey, sure, but it has worked darned well for me. Being able to have my door automatically unlocked while not worrying about the security of it all has been kind of magical—it’s like I have a tiny silver butler who only opens doors! OK, that’s weird.