Apple stores in the United States now sell an exterior door lock that can be unlocked by a user’s Apple Watch or iPhone. The Tier Lock at $329+ is the first Home Key supported lock that was sold in Apple stores.
When the Level Lock+, made by Level Home, is installed in a door, users can unlock and relock their home with a simple touch using Apple Home Key, a feature that uses NFC and secure tokens in Apple’s software. Users can text keys to friends or automate door locking.
For Apple, this is a significant milestone in the development of a highly anticipated feature that was first announced in 2021. Home Key is an example of Apple continuing to scan items that are normally carried in a physical wallet or pocket, from cash to keys.
Many new software features from Apple in recent years were aimed at making the iPhone more valuable to users to prevent them from switching to other brands of phones. A user whose gateway is tightly integrated with their phone might be less likely to upgrade to an Android phone.
Some of Apple’s newer initiatives, particularly its smart home ambitions, require extensive third-party hardware or system support to operate. But compared to features in iOS updates where Apple controls the hardware and software, these new integrations may take longer to become widely available.
In addition to the home key, Apple has Announced car keywhich unlocks BMW and Hyundai supported cars, and room key, which puts hotel keys from chains like Hyatt in Apple’s Wallet app. Apple’s iPhone integrates more deeply with vehicles via CarPlay, and extension of financial services to its users with Goldman Sachs.
For Level, it’s an opportunity to stand out as a technology company in a market dominated by a few big, older lock makers, by delivering a software feature that’s been in high demand by a subset of smart home enthusiasts.
“There’s a question that’s been asked right now in this category,” Level CEO John Martin told CNBC. “The question is, is a smart lock a consumer electronics device? Or is it a traditional lock that is now smart? »
Smart home fans might just be excited about a new Home Key lock option. Since Home Key’s debut in 2021, there has only been one supported lock model for sale in the United States, Schlage Encode Plus. Smart home enthusiasts on forums such as Reddit have speculated at length about which companies might launch other Home Key devices over the past year.
The high level of Apple consumer desire for a new Home Key lock has been revealed after journalists and users were able to purchase or locate Level Lock+ at select Apple stores after it accidentally went on sale early in some locations during last week.
Martin said the company immediately noticed the blog posts and social media buzz around its new lock.
“[Andrew] Samson, who is our CMO, former Nike guy. He’s awesome,” Martin said. “And he calls me at night like, ‘Oh my God, we’re trendy!'”
Some people on the forums will be disappointed to learn that Level won’t update the firmware of its old locks to support the home key. For Home Key support, users will need the Level Lock+ sold in Apple stores or online.
“We don’t plan to do a firmware update for Touch,” Martin said. “We had to innovate the core part of the technology that’s inside the product to support Home Keys in a way that was going to be first-class.”