August opens the door to new smart locks, improved doorbell camera

August opens the door to new smart locks, improved doorbell camera

Residential smart lock leader August Home introduced a new family of products this week, improving on its popular line of retrofit smart locks and security products with new models and new features. August Smart Lock Pro and August Doorbell Cam Pro become the new top-tier offerings, while the new August Smart Lock comes with new features at a lower price.

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Most notably, the new August Smart Lock Pro now comes with the company's new DoorSense technology, which can identify whether an August-equipped door is open or closed...and even initiate an auto-lock as soon as it senses the door is closed (instead of waiting for a timer). DoorSense uses a small magnetic sensor that is applied near the August Smart Lock and works much like a traditional open/closed sensor. The new August Smart Lock Pro is also equipped with Z-Wave Plus, a feature that will please many in the DIY home automation space. This will make the lock compatible with certain alarm systems and smart hubs like SmartThings and Wink. (No official information on which Z-Wave hubs will offer support is available yet.) The August Smart Lock Pro retains the design, size and features of the company's namesake second-generation smart lock, and still works with Apple's HomeKit home automation platform.

August Smart Lock Pro also includes Active Monitoring, a Beta of “smarter alerts” for the events that are most important to users. At launch, this will include all alerts for activity at the door including a DoorSense alert notifying the user if their door is left ajar for a set amount of time. New alerts notifying the users about specific activities that happen during a set timeframe, such as kids arriving home from school between 2:00-5:00pm on weekdays will be added shortly.

The August Smart Lock Pro comes bundled with the August Connect Wi-Fi bridge, enabling integrations with Alexa, Google Assistant and other popular smart home systems and services. The new bundle is priced at $279 and is available from the August site and Amazon.

August has also introduced a new, more affordable smart lock simply named August Smart Lock. Priced at only $149, this new lock retains all features of the second-generation smart lock except HomeKit compatibility. This new smart lock features a more traditional thumb turn and moves away from the iconic round design of August's previous smart locks, adopting a taller, slimmer profile. The new August Smart Lock also comes with DoorSense, which adds some additional value to this new product, and works with the August Connect to enable Alexa, Google Assistant and additional smart home connections. On HomeKit being left out, it's likely that this product was in development before Apple announced the relaxation of the hardware specs for HomeKit at WWDC 2017. As more and more smart home gadget companies are working to enable their existing devices to work with HomeKit, it's likely (but not confirmed) that August may be working to enable HomeKit on this new lock via a future firmware update. This story will be updated based on a response from August on this question.

If you're interested in being a bit more in a middle-of-the-road smart lock, don't worry...August will continue selling its second-generation lock, now named the August Smart Lock with HomeKit. (Are you confused yet?) Yes, it's HomeKit-enabled. No, it doesn't come with DoorSense or bundled with an August Connect. It's priced at $199. Decisions, decisions...

Finally, August introduced a new version of its doorbell camera, now called the August Doorbell Cam Pro. While retaining the same basic design, the new Pro has better video quality at night, with full color HD imagery and a built-in bright floodlight to illuminate the immediate area and subjects in front of the camera. The floodlight can also be set to illuminate based on motion at night as a security device. The new Doorbell Cam Pro also comes with HindSight technology that shows the first few seconds of activity even before motion is sensed or the doorbell button is pressed. This is most likely being done by having the camera recording "rolling video" continuously and automatically cutting it into an appropriate video clip when a motion event occurs. Definitely a good feature addition. A special USB dock is included to make setup of the new doorbell easier. Pricing for the new August Doorbell Cam Pro remains at $199. (Sadly, no mention of HomeKit compatibility for the doorbell.)

All of the new August Home products (and 2nd-gen August lock) now come in just two finishes: silver and dark gray. August Connect and August Smart Keypad continue to be available in just white and dark gray, respectively.

These new upgrades definitely give consumers more of a choice when they're looking at smart locks. Personally, I often recommend August because of its name recognition, simple operation and solid reliability. But some people are definitely turned off by the high prices. At $149, the new August Smart Lock is a little smaller in size, making it a bit easier on the eyes and the wallet.

Smarter Home Life has requested review units of the new August products and we hope to check them out and bring you full reviews coming soon.

After living with a few different smart locks over the years, I've now realized that the next device I I need in my life is an automatic door opener. Hey, August...make it happen!

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