Level’s new Level Lock+ with Apple Home Key is perfect for smart locks • TechCrunch

Smart lock startup Level has a new version of its lock available, and it includes Apple Home Key out of the box. the new Level lock+ is nearly identical in all other respects to its predecessor, the Level Lock Touch, but the addition of Home Key takes what was already a super-strong product and makes it a must-have for Apple smart home enthusiasts.

Base

The Level Lock+ completely replaces your existing lock, in a compact package that looks no different than a standard deadbolt for the casual onlooker. Its main feature is Apple Home Key support, making it part of only a very small number of locks on the market that can make that claim, and it’s sold exclusively in Apple Stores in the US for now. The Level Lock+ also supports unlocking via Level’s mobile app and touch via capacitive sensors that use the metal of the lock itself, as well as proximity-based options for automatic locking and unlocking.

Level’s app also allows you to grant temporary mobile or physical keycard access to your Level Lock+, useful for situations such as vacation rentals in the home and providing access to cleaners or pet sitters. All this in a package that is indistinguishable from a traditional, standard deadbolt, in both satin nickel and matte black colors, with a price tag of $329. The lock itself is powered by a single CR2 lithium battery that plugs into the lock via a screw cap. deadbolt loads itself.

Design

Level Lock+ with Apple Home Key

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

The main design feature of Level Lock+ is that it doesn’t look like other smartlocks – no colossal frame or built-in keyboard (you can buy a separate dedicated keyboard accessory if that’s something you need though). There isn’t even a logo on the Level Lock+ unless you could etch the logo into the deadbolt cap itself. In fact, everything at the end says ‘nothing to see here’, or at most ‘tastefully understated’.

It’s still a keyed lock too, so you can use the included old-school keys to access and lock the door if you ever need to, and there’s a classic twist paddle on the inside. But for me, the fact that this slot doesn’t advertise its cleverness is one of its best selling features.

Features and Performance

Level’s existing Lock Touch was already a favorite smart home accessory of mine, but my only complaint about extended use was that the touch functions were a little inconsistent in terms of reliability. Sometimes it just didn’t recognize the touch and unlocked on return to my house. This was rare enough that it was never a deal breaker for me, especially since fallback Bluetooth and Wi-Fi connectivity meant I was never unable to access it.

Apple’s Home Key completely solves that with an access tool that so far works every time, and that seems at least similar to using touch to unlock, if not even easier. Depending on which hand is full or holding my dog’s leash, I use my Apple Watch or my iPhone interchangeably and the NFC connection works flawlessly to both lock and unlock, with no preconditions like those involved in activating touch lock or unlock (you must have exited and returned to a geofenced area for it to work properly).

Level Lock+ with Apple Home Key

Image Credits: Darrell Etherington

Level’s Lock+ still offers touch-to-lock and unlock if you want to enable it, and they can work simultaneously with Home Key. The auto-unlock and lock features are also great, depending on your preferred usage, and guest access provisioning is a great feature that comes in handy for a wide range of applications. But Home Key is what transforms the Level Lock from an extremely solid smart home gadget worth having if you’re willing to put up with a few quirks, to something I can definitely recommend to anyone with an iPhone pickup if they’re into be nearby. market for a smart lock.

Conclusion

I mentioned it briefly above, but the market for Home Key locks has remained eerily small since Apple introduced the feature at WWDC 2021 and then rolled out Home Key in iOS 15. There’s the Schlage Encode Plus if you can find it, and the Aqara A100, which is huge and also hard to find. That puts the Level Lock+ in an excellent position as not only is it actually available to order through Apple (albeit with a 4-6 week lead time at the time of writing), but it’s also just a fantastic product, through and through. by means of.

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