The August Smart Lock, a new entrant in the “smart home gadget” category is on sale, as of today, at Apple stores. The August lock fits over existing locks and, because it works with AA batteries, doesn’t require additional wiring, making installation relatively easier than its competition. It allows owners to provide digital keys that allow temporary or 24/7 access via an app. August says they chose Apple stores as a distribution channel because Apple is “committed to building world-class products and providing an excellent consumer experience at their stores.” To that I would add that Apple stores probably invite the consumers who would pay $250 for a smart lock.
When compared to other smart home devices, such as the Nest, the August lock doesn’t immediately strike me as something that is a necessity or even desirable. The Nest provides immediate energy savings and better temperature control right away. There is also no risk involved in using it, only benefits. If you’re cold, change the settings, it’s not that difficult. The August Lock, on the other hand, is a risk. Wired’s headline for their review of the lock was that it’s great, when it works. A front door look isn’t something that can not work. As Wired’s reporter said: it only had to malfunction once, with him finding an unlocked door unexpectedly, for him to lose confidence in the lock.
However, that said, once the bugs have been worked out of the lock and app, this could be beneficial for some users.
- Cleaners and other service providers requiring recurring but temporary access can be given a key only for the hours they need access.
- Airbnb hosts can provide entry without being at the apartment and for a few days.
- Realtors, who currently use a combination lock that they trust potential buyers and renters to close after they leave, will prefer this option. The easy installation can also allow them to take it from house to house.
- A partnership with FedEx and UPS can help solve the pesky disappearing packages problem, though opening your house to an unknown delivery person, even for a limited time, seems extremely risky to me.
Though there are a number of potential, positive uses, it seems that for the general population the risk is not worth the benefit. As Sam Biddle said: “why would you ever want to add a level of complexity and vulnerability to things that already work pretty much perfectly, and are cheap?”