Two Months With the August Smart Lock ProBy - 09/03/2018
Two months ago, I set up an August Smart Lock Pro (courtesy of August) to test the unit with my Frontpoint Security System. I was not impressed. However, my lack of satisfaction had less to do with the lock and more to do with the implementation of the integration between Frontpoint and Alarm.com. On its own the lock performed well, so I decided to give August a fresh look as a standalone smart lock.
What is the August Smart Lock Pro?
The third generation August Smart Lock Pro is a smart lock that retrofits your existing deadbolt. From the outside, nothing changes—even your bolt remains in place. On the inside, your deadbolt mechanism will be replaced with August’s intelligence.
The August Smart Lock Pro replaces the original Smart Lock, which was first introduced in 2014. Since then they’ve had a lot of time to improve, and improve they have. Pro’s most notable feature is the addition of Z-Wave Plus, allowing it to connect to third-party hubs. Also, when purchased online, the lock ships with an August Connect, a device which acts as an internet bridge. With the bridge, you can now control your lock from anywhere, not just within Bluetooth range. Finally, it ships with a DoorSense sensor which calibrates to the lock and reads your door’s status, ensuring that you don’t lock the door when you accidentally leave it ajar.
My first impression of the August Smart Lock Pro was that it’s huge. Seriously, huge. I’ve seen it before at CES, but the vastness of Las Vegas can apparently miniaturize things. While testing the lock, I had a few guests stop by to visit. Their comments ranged from, “What is this?” to, “How do I get out?” and even, “IT’S HUGE!”
The lock measures about 3.4″ in diameter and is made to retrofit your existing deadbolt.
Installation was a breeze. All you need is a Phillips screwdriver and a little bit of patience. You can read detailed installation instructions here.
It’s important to note that before you install, you’ll want to ensure that your deadbolt is compatible. August has a compatibility chart which you’ll find in the instruction manual linked above, or you can check out a comprehensive list of compatible deadbolts here. Also, the lock is not weatherproof. This shouldn’t be a deal breaker as its designed to go on the inside of your door, but it’s still necessary for us to mention.
In general, August works with most single-cylinder deadbolts. It will not work with mortise style, rim cylinder, or interconnected locks. Also, some locks like Baldwin and Kwikset deadbolts installed before 1997 will require a little extra effort, which August will gladly walk you through if you give them a call.
Installing the August Connect is even easier than installing the lock. The Connect just plugs into an outlet. The hardest part is finding a suitable outlet as it needs to be as close to your lock as possible.
The August Smart Lock Pro is battery-powered, which I found concerning at first. The issue decreased as time went on. The lock ships ready to use, batteries included. In reading online, I was afraid that the battery life might be unreasonably short, but here I am, two months later and it’s still going.
According to August, if the lock is installed correctly the battery life should be around 6 months. The downside here is that they will eventually die and they are not rechargeable.
August runs on four AA standard alkaline batteries. They specifically note that you should use non-rechargeable alkaline batteries. Also, there is no way to check the lock’s battery status using the mobile app. If you’re planning a long trip, there’s no way to know if you should replace them now or later. When the batteries are close to depletion you should get an alert through the mobile app. But as someone who likes to be in control, I wish they would show battery status to users on-demand or at least tell us how far in advance the alert is sent. Is it sent when there’s 10% battery-life remaining? Two percent? I don’t know the answer.
Update: In total, the battery lasted 15 weeks. My first “low battery” notification came four weeks before it died or at the “20% capacity mark.”
Using the August App
The real beauty of a smart lock is app control, and the August app is easy to use, responsive, and organized.
First things first, there’s Keychain. From here, you can click in to control individual locks if you happen to have multiple locks. Once you click in, you will be presented with four tabs.
From the first tab, you can lock and unlock the door.
From the second tab, you can view a thirty-day activity history. You can see when the lock was locked/unlocked both manually and by a user.
The third tab is your guest list. You can add multiple users and divide them into two categories: Owner and Guest. Let’s go ahead and dig into that now.
|Lock/Unlock Via August App|
|Control All Lock Settings|
|View Activity Feed|
|View Guest List|
|App Access||Always||Always, Recurring, Temporary|
First of all, though Owners have ultimate access, you can have multiple owners. Second, you can also have multiple guests, and each guest can have settings unique to their access.
In digging into the guest access settings, you’ll find “always”, “recurring”, and “temporary” access. Recurring is great for cleaners or dog walkers or people who visit on a regular schedule. You can set their access by day of the week and time. For example, Mondays and Thursdays between 4 PM and 7 PM. The downside here is that recurring means weekly, so this doesn’t work great if you have a monthly or bi-weekly cleaning crew.
“Temporary” has a set start and end date. For example, start access on August 16th at 4 PM and end it on the 16th at 7 PM.
If you happen to have an August Keypad, you can also invite guests with Keypad Only access, allowing them to use a provided code for entry, and not the August app. All of the other options, unfortunately, do require that your guests download and use the August app.
The final tab is the settings tab. You can tweak settings like your House Name, dig into the settings for your August Connect, turn on offline notifications, and dig into the lock’s settings, which are tied to its features.
August Smart Lock Pro Features and Performance
|August Smart Lock Pro + Connect||August Smart Lock|
|Color||Silver or Dark Gray||Silver or Dark Gray|
|Lock/Unlock From Phone Within Range|
|Lock/Unlock From Phone Anywhere||Requires August Connect|
|Auto-Unlock As You Approach|
|Auto-Lock As You Leave|
|Works with Amazon Echo and Google Home||Requires August Connect|
|Works With||August Doorbell, August Smart Keypad, August Connect (Included)||August Doorbell, August Smart Keypad, August Connect|
Lock and Unlock From Anywhere
Let’s start at the beginning: You can lock and unlock the door from anywhere. This is a feature I’ve used a lot since I started testing the lock and it works great. The feature is both responsive and fast.
What I like best about remote lock/unlock is that as an iOS user, I can create both Widgets and take advantage of the app’s 3D Touch feature. Both features are huge timesavers. Instead of opening the app and navigating to the home screen to lock and unlock, I can simply press and hold the app to lock and unlock the door.
Of course, the beauty of a smart lock is automation, and there are ways to automate the process so that you don’t have to do anything at all.
Auto Lock Using Bluetooth and Wifi
The August app will search for the best connection, be it Bluetooth or Wifi. There’s nothing you need to do for that to happen. This ability also ties into the auto lock and unlock features. To set these features up, you will need to head to the Settings menu and then “Lock Settings” and scroll to the section titled “Automation.”
The first feature you’ll come across is called Auto-Lock. When enabled, your lock will automatically lock itself if you’ve left it unlocked. The process is time-based and customizable. You can set the timer to a set time somewhere between 30 seconds and 30 minutes.
Next up, you’ll find Auto-Unlock. This feature is tied to modes: Home and Away.
When in Home Mode, nothing happens. The lock determines that you are away when you leave your “neighborhood” which is defined as 200 meters. When this happens, the lock will start listening for your presence using Bluetooth. When you step back into short range (within 15′ of your door), your lock will automatically unlock.
While I tested this feature, I didn’t test it for long. I usually leave and arrive through the garage door, not the front door where I’d installed August. What I found is that when I arrived home, August would unlock the front door, as I asked it to, but I would often forget to lock it back. Unless you happen to have an August Lock on the door you use for entry, this feature is probably one you want to avoid.
Wirecutter also gave this specific feature a thumbs down, but for a different reason. They fear that the ease of using auto-unlock might lead to accidental unlocks, which is a security concern. According to the Wirecutter, the only way around this is to connect the lock to HomeKit, which will then ask for permission before unlocking when you arrive home.
And finally, while I didn’t have any problems beyond what I shared, this is perhaps the most complained about feature with several users calling it ‘glitchy’ in that sometimes it works, sometimes it doesn’t.
If you’re concerned about an accidental unlock, you can set up notifications. You can ask for a notification when an auto-lock is attempted and another when your lock marks you as Away.
Speaking of notifications, August also supports Smart Alerts which allow you to setup push notifications for custom “alert me when” events. There are four events you can choose from:
- The door is locked or unlocked manually
- The door is locked or unlocked by a specific user
- The door is left ajar
- The door is Auto-Locked
Once you have your event notification setup, you next choose a time. There are two options here: any time it occurs and within a time range.
Choosing a time range allows you to set a schedule based on the days of the week and time of day. For example, you can set an alert to let you know if the door is left ajar on weekdays between 8 AM and 6 PM.
The “door is left ajar” smart rule is tied to DoorSense, a sensor that ships with your August Lock. From the app, you can set the “Door Ajar Timing” between one minute and 30 minutes, which means that the notification will be sent after X amount of time has passed.
DoorSense will also affect the status shown within the August Lock. When DoorSense is disabled, there are two visual statuses: an open green circle and a closed red circle. The green circle means the door is unlocked. The red circle means it’s locked.
With DoorSense enabled, you’ll see two new visual statuses: dashed yellow and dashed red. A dashed yellow circle means that the door is open and unlocked. A dashed red circle means that your door is opened and “locked,” a.k.a you didn’t close the door before locking. As you can technically lock the door even when it’s open, it’s nice to have this added visual reminder that things are quite right.
Here is where I ran into my first issue with the lock. I’ve installed Door Armor from Armor Concepts. The kit includes a Door Shield which fits over the lock bolt. The armor makes it a little more difficult to shut my door. Sometimes, you have to put a little hip into it. What I found is that DoorSense is very sensitive to how you close your door. With DoorSense enabled, August would often fail to lock. In the end, I wound up disabling DoorSense, which improved performance greatly.
August Access and August Works With
August Access is a way for others to access your home, and I’m not talking about friends and family. Think in-home delivery people, service providers, and repairmen.
Currently, the following companies are a part of August Access:
August Works With
In addition to August Access, August has a Works With program. August works with:
- Amazon Alexa
- Apple HomeKit
- Google Home
- Logitech Pop
- Xfinity Home
- Liberty Mutual
- Z-Wave Alliance
- Alarm.com Security Systems
I didn’t test all of the integrations, but I tested some. Most are self-explanatory, but some aren’t and some are underwhelming.
For example, I connected August to Nest, hoping that I would be able to unlock the door when someone rings my Nest Hello doorbell, I can’t. Instead, all I can do is view Nest Cam motion events and my home’s temperature from the August app. From the history tab, you can click to view motion activity, but you’ll just find a short clip of events, not a full video. To view a full view or live feed, you’ll need to head to the Nest app.
I also tested the Alarm.com integration as mentioned earlier, but I wasn’t a fan. While it works, using the Alarm.com app slows things down and causes a lag when locking and unlocking the door.
My favorite integrations were voice integrations. I enjoyed using my voice to lock and unlock the door.
August Doorbell and Keypad
Finally, the August Smart Lock Pro works with August-branded accessories including the August Smart Keypad and the Doorbell, neither of which I tested so I’ll make this brief.
The August Smart Keypad is weatherproof. It’s made to go outside your door and enables users to access to your home using a key code, eliminating the need for them to download the August app. The keypad is battery-powered and sells for $59.00.
August Doorbell Cam Pro is a video doorbell. It offers an HD camera, full-color night vision (thanks to a built-in light), two-way audio, and will let you know when someone rings the door. Footage recorded by the camera is visible from the history tab and stored for free for 24 hours, making it one of the only big name video doorbells that offer free cloud storage for videos. (Nest offers 3 hours for snapshots.) By far, the doorbell’s best feature is a useful integration with the August lock. When you answer a call, you can view your guests, talk to them, and let them in by unlocking the door from the same screen.
Overall, the August lock is feature rich and offers plenty of integrations. The features I disliked (auto unlock, laggy Alarm.com integration, and DoorSense) paled in comparison to the overall stellar performance of the lock. And remember, some of my issues were self-created thanks to my Door Armor.
The August Smart Lock Pro executes on its promises and earns a thumbs up from me. You can buy your own August Smart Lock Pro here.