If you’re ready to join the digital home revolution, but want to ease into it, installing a smart lock is a good place to start. Joining products such as the Kwikset Kevo$138.95 and LockState LS-500I RemoteLock Wi-Fi Door Lock$253.95 at Amazon, the August Smart Lock ($249.99) provides keyless access to your home or business, and is controlled and monitored from your smartphone without the need for a third-party hub. This stylish lock uses Bluetooth technology to communicate with iOS and Android smartphones via an easy-to-use app, which lets you lock and unlock your August-equipped doors, grant access to family, friends, and others, and monitor their comings and goings. It’s a breeze to install and works wonderfully, making it our new Editors’ Choice for connected door locks.
Design and Features
The August Smart Lock doesn’t look like a lock at all. Shaped like an oversized hockey puck, the somewhat bulky, 3.2-by-2.2-inch (HD) lock sports a textured anodized aluminum housing with a curved notch at the top, and a small ring of indicator LEDs in the center that glow green when the lock is opened and red when it is closed. A chime accompanies each event.
View GalleryView All 4 Photos in Gallery
Our review unit came with a silver finish, but you can also order the lock in dark gray, champagne, or red. Perhaps the most notable differences between the August lock and other smart locks we’ve reviewed— such as the Yale Real Living Touchscreen Deadbolt Lock YRD 240$164.99 at Amazon and the Schlage Century Touchscreen Deadbolt Lock (model BE469NX CEN619)$173.99 at Amazon—is that it uses most of your existing lock hardware and is installed on the inside of the door. Your external keyed cylinder remains intact, so you can use your keys if necessary. Your single deadbolt assembly also stays where it is. The only part of the lock being replaced is the interior thumb-turn mechanism.
The lock is powered by four AA batteries (included), which you can access by pressing, rotating, and popping off the front panel. Included in the box are three metal mounting plates and three tail piece adapters, each of which is designed to work with various brands of single-cylinder deadbolt locks. Inside the August lock is Bluetooth circuitry that allows it to communicate with compatible smartphones without the need for an external hub, but you have to be near the lock to control it, which means you can’t lock and unlock doors when you’re not home. However, according to Logitech’s Harmony web site, the folks at August are currently working to make the lock compatible with the Logitech Harmony Home Hub$89.99 at Logitech and thus add remote access. I was unable to get an August representative to confirm this, though.
The August lock works with Apple devices running iOS 7 or later and Bluetooth 4.0-enabled devices running Android 4.4 KitKat; support for devices running Android 5 Lollipop is in the works.
The app is well-designed and easy to use. It opens to the Keychain page, which lists all installed August lock locations. Tapping a specific location lets you view installed locks and their status. A large green circle means the lock is open, and a solid red circle means it is locked. To unlock the door, tap the red circle; to lock it, tap the green circle. Tapping the gear icon brings you to the Settings page where you can enable certain features and calibrate the lock. The Everlock feature automatically engages (locks) the lock 30 seconds after you unlock it so that you don’t have to. The Auto-Unlock feature uses your iPhone’s geo-location to identify where you are in relation to the lock. After you’ve left the perimeter (approximately 0.6 miles) the lock senses your presence when you return and automatically unlocks when you approach it. At the time of this writing, this feature is only available for iOS devices, with support for Android devices coming soon.
Swiping to the right of the Keychain page brings you to the Users page where you can see who has access, their cell phone number, and what kind of rights they have. Here you can also invite users and grant them access to the lock. To do so, enter their cell phone number. The app will search your contact folder for a match and fill in the name fields for you (otherwise you have to fill them in yourself). At this point you can choose to invite the contact as a guest with always, recurring, or temporary access privileges, or as an owner with full invite, editing, and deleting rights. For recurring and temporary access you can choose days and times of access and beginning and end dates. When a new user receives their invite via text message, they are given a link to download the app. They must then create a username and password before they can access the lock.
Swiping to the left of the Keychain page brings you to the Activity page where you can view a complete daily and weekly history of who has locked and unlocked the door and the time of day each event took place.
Installation and Performance
Installing the August Smart Lock was incredibly easy. First, I used the provided piece of tape to hold the outer key cylinder in place. Next, I unscrewed the two long bolts that connect the thumb-turn to the cylinder and removed the thumb-turn. I matched up the correct mounting plate, placed the proper tailpiece adapter on the tailpiece, and attached the plate to the cylinder using the same screws. Once secured, I lined up the lock with the tailpiece adapter, opened the two wing clamps on either side of the lock, pressed the lock into place on the plate, and secured it by closing the wing clamps onto the plate. The entire process took less than five minutes.
Once the lock was installed, I downloaded the free app and created an account with my name, a password, and a photo (August requires all users to upload a photo to make it easier to identify who you are granting access to). I was asked to enter my mobile number, and within 20 seconds I received a text message with a verification code. I entered the code and my email address, and another code was sent to my email address. Once I entered this code my account setup was complete.
To add a lock, tap Add a Lock on the Keychain page and select Scan for Locks. Make sure you’re standing near the lock and the protective battery tab has been removed. When I did this, my lock was discovered within 5 seconds. Next, you’re asked to enter a house name and which door the lock is controlling. You can also upload a photo of the house if you prefer. The next step is calibration, which involves rotating the cylinder by hand until the door is locked, clicking OK, and rotating the cylinder again to the unlock position. Once the lock is calibrated, tap the green circle, wait for the lock to engage, and you’re good to go.
The August lock worked like a charm and the app made adding users and locking and unlocking doors effortless. The lock and unlock buttons never failed to respond when pressed, and the response time was always quick, but there was a slight five second lag while waiting for authorization when approaching the lock. The Auto Unlock feature did its job every time, automatically unlocking the door upon approach after leaving and re-entering the perimeter. The Everlock feature also worked without a hitch, but Everlock openings did not appear in the activity log.
The August Smart Lock offers an easy and attractive way to bring connected home technology to your house without the need for a third party Z-Wave or ZigBee hub. Unlike most smart locks, it uses your existing lock hardware (and keys) and is installed on the inside of your door. The August app makes it easy to grant permanent, temporary, and timed access to family and guests, and keeps tabs on when each lock is opened and closed, and by whom. At $250 it’s considerably more expensive than a traditional single bolt door lock, and a bit more expensive than the Kevo Bluetooth lock. But the August lock lets you add multiple users at no charge, while Kwikset charges $1.99 for each additional Kevo e-key (the first two are free). For these reasons, the August Smart Lock becomes our new Editors’ Choice for connected door locks.