Apple stores in the United States now sell a front door lock that can be unlocked by a user’s Apple Watch or iPhone. The $329 Level Lock+ is the first Home Key-compatible lock sold at Apple stores.
When the Level Lock+ is installed inside a front door, users can unlock and relock their home using Apple Home Key, a feature that uses NFC and secure tokens in the software. Apple to unlock doors with just a touch. 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 function. 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 Home Key, Apple announced Car Key, which unlocks cars supported by BMW and Hyundai, and Room Key, which places hotel keys from chains like Hyatt in Apple’s Wallet app. Apple’s iPhone integrates more deeply with vehicles via CarPlay and extends financial services to its users with Goldman Sachs.
For Level Home, it’s an opportunity to stand out as a technology company in a market dominated by a few large, 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 on sale in the United States, the 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, CEO of Level, said the company immediately noticed the blog posts and social media buzz around its new lock.
“Samson, who’s our CMO, former Nike guy. He’s awesome,” Martin said. “And he calls me in the 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.”