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How to Easily Control Your Home Security from an iPhone

In this article, Jason R. Rich offers an overview of keyless entry deadbolt locks that are available from several companies, and explains and how you can control these home security solutions remotely from an iPhone.
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With good home security comes piece of mind, but with multiple locks, that piece of mind comes with a keychain full of separate old-fashion metal keys. Thanks to new locks from UniLock Kwikset, August Smart Lock, and Lockitron, secure keyless entry to deadbolt locks via an iPhone 4S or iPhone 5 is now possible.

Slated for release in 2013, three companies have developed similar but slightly different approaches to keyless entry locks that you can control from the iPhone. The UniLock Kwikset Kevo, for example, looks like a traditional deadbolt that can utilize a metal key. However, it’s also Bluetooth-compatible and can be securely paired with an iPhone. As a result, it can be locked or unlocked remotely from the smartphone.

The Kwikset Kevo Lock Replaces Your Door’s Existing Deadbolt Lock

The Kwikset Kevo can replace an existing deadbolt lock and be installed in about 15 minutes (or less) using a Philips-head screwdriver. It’s then powered by four AA batteries, which last up to 1 year. The lock includes an LED light that turns green when unlocked.

As an iPhone user approaches the front door, the iPhone (running a proprietary app) serves as a wireless and virtual key and unlocks the door automatically. The phone can remain in a pocket or purse, as long as its Bluetooth feature is turned on. You can then lock the deadbolt again using a series of physical taps on the lock or using the app.

Assuming not everyone in the household has their own iPhone, two compatible key fobs come with each lock that serve as a digital eKey for unlocking the door upon approach. For those who are iPhone users, if their iPhone gets lost or stolen, the secure “eKey” created and controlled from the app can be changed in seconds. A traditional metal key can also be used with this lock, but the Kwikset Kevo can not be controlled remotely via the Internet. Thus, the app user needs to be within the Bluetooth signal range of the lock.

One nice feature of the Kwikset Kevo is that it can determine if a user is approaching her own front door from the outside and automatically unlocks it. Or if the homeowner is inside and responds to a knock on the door, the lock remains locked until the user determines if he wants the door opened.

The Kwikset Kevo (http://www.unikey.com) is priced around $250.00 and will begin shipping in 2013. The current version of the Kwikset Kevo is meant to be a deadbolt replacement lock that comes in a choice of three popular finishes, including satin nickel, polished brass, and Venetian bronze. After it’s installed and set up, a homeowner or resident will no longer need a physical key to unlock or relock the door associated with the deadbolt.

The August Smart Lock Alternative

The August Smart Lock is a device that connects to an existing deadbolt and provides the homeowner with the ability to give virtual key access to anyone she chooses who has their own iPhone.

The homeowner can determine how long a virtual key will work, or disable someone’s key at anytime using the Smart Lock’s proprietary app or by logging into his secure account on August’s website. Thus, if an iPhone that’s been programmed with a virtual key gets lost, the homeowner can deactivate the key in seconds from any Internet-enabled device or computer.

Instead of replacing your existing deadbolt, the August Smart Lock attaches to the interior side of a door using two screws. Thus, the existing keys for the current deadbolt continue to function as they always have. However, someone with an iPhone can use a keyless system that requires no access codes to memorize because the iPhone app serves as a virtual and secure key.

This is a battery-powered system that works with more than 90 percent of all deadbolts currently installed in U.S. homes, and it installs in minutes using a Philips-head screwdriver. You can use the August Smart Lock system to provide temporary (one time or recurring at specific times) access to a housekeeper, babysitter, or dog walker, for example. The app keeps track of who enters the door and when, plus has a built-in LED that visually shows when it’s locked or unlocked.

When it becomes available in 2013, the August Smart Lock system, which includes the deadbolt attachment that’s made from anodized aluminum and an app, will be priced at $199.00. The lock attachment runs on two AA batteries and utilizes a Bluetooth connection to a smartphone. It can be pre-ordered at http://www.august.com.

Lockitron Offers a Third Keyless Deadbolt Option for Your Home

The Lockitron ($179.00) offers another option for utilizing an existing deadbolt on a door, by adding a keyless entry system that you can control from anywhere using an Internet-connected iPhone. Like the August Smartlock system, the Lockitron fits over the inside of a currently installed deadbolt and is battery powered.

The Lockitron app that works with this system gives homeowners secure and remote access to their lock, but can also provide temporarily entry to anyone else with an iPhone. This system operates using four AA batteries (which last for about 1 year), and it has Wi-Fi built in, so it can communicate with the homeowner’s iPhone via the Internet. Plus, as a preprogrammed iPhone approaches the door from the outside, the lock senses it and automatically unlocks the door, even if the phone remains in a pocket or purse.

Because it has Internet access, the Lockitron system automatically alerts the homeowner’s smartphone every time an authorized person unlocks the door and informs him about whose “virtual key” was used. It can also alert a homeowner if someone simply knocks on the door. To set up a virtual key for a guest, all that’s needed is her iPhone’s phone number or an email address.

Currently, the Lockitron system is available for pre-order from the company’s website (https://lockitron.com/preorder). It will begin shipping in 2013. It too takes just minutes to install but has a slightly different design than the August Smart Lock. The unit is housed within a glossy polycarbonate shell that is placed over the inside portion of the existing lock. It measures 6.5 by 4 by 1.66 inches but requires 2 inches of clearance between the deadbolt and knob. Unlike the August Smart Lock system, no portion of the existing lock needs to be replaced.

More Extensive iPhone Controlled Home Security Options Are Available

Although UniKey’s Kwikset Kevo, the August Smart Lock, and the Lockitron all offer keyless options for locking and unlocking a single deadbolt lock on a home or apartment’s front door, for example, most home security companies, such as ADT (http://www.adt.com) and XFINITY Home Security (http://www.comcast.com/home-security), offer much more elaborate home security systems that can be remotely controlled using an iPhone. These systems can include video surveillance cameras (accessible from the iPhone), keyless entry locks, thermostat control, remote garage door control, as well as burglar, fire, flood, and carbon monoxide monitoring, for example.

However, these home security systems also involve a higher upfront installation cost, plus a monthly monitoring fee (between $40.00 and $60.00 per month). Other companies, such as iSmart Alarm (http://www.ismartalarm.com), offer do-it-yourself home video surveillance and burglar alarm systems, priced between $179.00 and $319.00, which have no monthly monitoring fees but that you can also manage and control from an iPhone.

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