August provides iOS HomeKit compatible smart home products.
Home automation has come a long way since it first started out a few years ago. Now, smart home devices are an integrated part of Apple’s mobile software ecosystem. One of my favorite products from the inception of smart home devices has been the August Smart Lock. Since my initial review of the product, August has launched an entire home automation product line including an updated Smart Lock, Doorbell Cam, and Smart Keypad. I have been fortunate enough to be able to test out all these devices.
August Smart Lock 2.0
The August Smart Lock has been one of my favorite smart home devices since I installed it. The first-generation lock introduced the concept that a smartphone could be used as a key for your front door. It also offered the auto-unlock/auto-lock function, which makes it easy for you to enter and leave your home, without having to fumble for keys. the biggest improvement to the August Smart Lock with the second generation version is the integration of HomeKit support along with Siri commands. This means that you can also use third party HomeKit apps to check the status of your Smart Lock and lock or unlock your door.
As much as I loved the first-generation product, the second-generation really steps up to the plate with some great new hardware improvements. The first thing I noticed was that installation was a breeze. If you already have an August Smart Lock, you simply pull the unit off your deadbolt and then slide the new one (with the correct attachment on). It’s honestly that simple. The Smart Lock comes with AA batteries pre-installed and once you pull the plastic strip away from them, the lock is ready to connect via Bluetooth. It also seems like the lock actually turns easier when you unlock it by hand. The mechanism is just a lot smoother.
I did find one problem with connectivity. There are times that I’ll go to unlock the lock and the icon in the app will be grayed out instead of green or red indicating that it’s locked or unlocked. I did contact August about this, but never really received a solution for the problem. I’ve tried to disconnect and reconnect the lock to the app and have still had this small glitch happen. Despite this issue, I’ve really enjoyed using the second-generation Smart Lock with Siri integration.
August Doorbell Cam
For some time now, I’ve had a video doorbell monitoring my home. So, it’s a technology I’m both familiar with and enjoy using. When I found out that August had Doorbell Cam, I was intrigued because I liked the idea of being able to have all the smart products at my front door apart of the same brand. I like it when products work well together. The August Doorbell Cam is similar to other video doorbells in the market in that it allows you to see and speak with visitors at your door from anywhere. The Doorbell Cam has a one-way, 140-degree HD video camera equipped with intelligent motion detection and two-way audio. The camera is designed so that you can view a live stream of video activity that is happening at your door. You receive notifications when motion is detected and can unlock your door — or buzz in your guests — right from the August app.
Installation of the Doorbell Cam is not difficult, but we ran into some trouble that I will describe shortly. If you have an existing doorbell that is hard wired into your home, you simply use the existing wiring for the Doorbell Cam. After turning the power off to your doorbell, you remove the existing unit and then attach the backplate for the August doorbell. You have the option to angle the camera towards your door, which I recommend if you are mounting the unit in a location that is parallel to your door. You will need to pull the existing wiring through the backplate and then attach it where indicated in the instructions. August provides you with dolphin connectors so you don’t even have to worry about twisting the wires together. I would suggest having a pair of wire strippers handy in case you need to clean up older wires. I ended up having to do this since I have an older home. After you have the wires connected and the backplate attached to the side of your house, you can then snap the Doorbell Cam into place and restore power to your Doorbell so that the unit can charge. After it’s charged for about 30 minutes, you can complete set-up. All in all, this installation might take you about 30 minutes unless you run into problems.
Unlike the Smart Lock, the Doorbell Cam connects directly to your home WiFi network. With that in mind, you have to have a strong signal near your doorbell in order for it to work properly. Once it connects, you should be able to view live video at any time. If you wish to view a log of saved recordings, you must subscribe to the August Video Recording service. At this time, August is offering a free 6-month subscription to current owners and new customers who purchase their Doorbell Cam by December 31, 2016.
Now, as I alluded to above, we ran into a small technical glitch with the installation and set-up of the Doorbell Cam. We found that the camera was not responding or giving a proper LED light indicated error. So, we contacted August and was sent a replacement when it was thought that the Doorbell Cam was faulty. I want to give some great credit to the August customer service because they took care of the issue as quickly as they possibly could. Once the new unit arrived, we attempted the installation process again to find we were having the same error. After some time spent discussing the issues with August’s support team, we determined that the doorbell may not be getting the correct amount of voltage to it. While this is an easy thing to check with a multimeter if you have one, we opted to call an electrician to have the issue fixed as soon as the problem was identified. The electrician found that the transformer for the doorbell had gone bad. As soon as he replaced it, the August Doorbell Cam worked just fine.
The audio and video of the camera work very well, but the notifications lag just a bit. For example, the doorbell will chime inside the house when the button is pushed, but I won’t receive a push notification to my phone for many seconds — even up to a minute — later. The quality of the video has been ‘good’ and because it works within the August app, I really like the integration between the products.
August Smart Keypad
This might actually be my favorite part of the August line-up. The Smart Keypad is designed to work with the Smart Lock and provide an easy access point when you don’t have your phone easily available. The keypad automatically generates codes for one-time use or even regular use by residents or other trusted parties. It’s small and is very easy to install. The keypad is battery-operated communicates via Bluetooth so you don’t have to worry about hard wiring it to power like you do the Doorbell Cam. To install it, you simply use the provided screws to attach the backplate to your house (in our case the wood paneling near our front door) and then snap the Keypad into place.
Once you have the keypad attached to its designated area, you can then add it as a device within the August app on your smartphone. This process will pair it to the Smart Lock that you select within your app. If you have more than one Smart Lock on your account, you simply select the one you want the keypad to work with and the process is complete. From there you can request codes be generated as needed. It’s probably the easiest smart home product installation I’ve had — from any company.
I really enjoy having these products as a part of my home ecosystem. August does a really great job of making these products work together and even though I’ve had a few hiccups, I think that’s the fault of other factors and not necessarily the August products. August smart products just make life easier.
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