You’re getting too old to still be losing your keys like this. Seriously, they were right there, in your hand, like a second ago. Time to jimmy the kitchen window again, right? Wrong. The Kwikset Kevo gives you not one but three means of entry, so you’ll never get locked out again.
This month, Gizmodo Australia will be hopping in our domestic DeLorean to bring you what the future will have in store for the way we live. The Home Of The Future series focuses on smart tech for your home life and beyond. We’ve got a great month planned full of news, reviews and features.
Welcome to the future.
Portions of this review first appeared on Gizmodo US.
What Is It?
Though they’re designed to make our lives easier, many smart home devices require a level of tech sophistication that escapes most homeowners. The difficulty of learning and adapting to new methods is enough disincentive to even bother trying.
But the $329 Kevo Kwikset provides an unparalleled degree of flexibility in its functionality, allowing users to ease into the Internet of Things and try out new technologies like eKeys and Bluetooth fobs while still having the tried and true physical system that they’re accustomed to. The lock is only as smart as you want it to be, not the other way around.
It’s basically a traditional deadbolt in a really fancy housing. The outer half features a touch-sensitive ring surrounding the keyhole that works with the fob to unlock the door with a touch. The inner half contains the electronic guts, brain, and power supply. The bolt mechanism itself sits between them.
The Kevo Kwikset currently supports iPhones only, the 4S and newer. Android support is on the way. It uses Bluetooth and a paired, security-authenticated Kevo app to dole out eKeys to whomever you choose, and then gives those users wireless, physical-key-free access to any premises which you secure with the Kwikset’s traditional locking deadbolt.
What Is It Good At?
Installing the Kevo Kwikset is really not too different to installing any other deadbolt. If you’ve done it before, you’ll know the basic process of unscrewing, screwing, placing, and adjusting all the bits and pieces of the locking cylinder and bolt — just add setting up the Kevo app and putting a couple of AA batteries into the Kwikset’s rear battery case too.
Once you have it set up, using the Kevo Kwikset is super easy. Once you’re within range of the front of the Kevo Kwikset — around one to one and a half metres — with your smartphone in backpack or pocket or purse, you simply tap the lock cylinder with your finger and you’re inside after a couple of seconds’ wait for the Bluetooth communication to take place.
The reason I mention the front of the Kwikset specifically is because once you’re inside your house, the deadbolt knows, and even if you leave your phone within that one metre range, it won’t unlock when someone taps on it from the outside. This is a great security feature, and should hopefully go a long way to dispelling the worry of someone hacking their way inside your house.
If you don’t have an iPhone, you’re not completely at sea. Kevo includes two Bluetooth fobs and two physical, real, old-fashioned keys with the Kwikset, so you can give them out to guests or to temporary entrants like tradies. You can also re-key the Kwikset to exclude old keys, so you don’t have to worry about them being copied by whoever you’re giving them out to.
Thankfully, the app is very easy to use. You can record all comings and goings of any authorised Bluetooth-enabled phone — although no fobs or keys — and look up that record on your phone, so you can conveniently track what time your child or partner got home on that late Friday or Saturday night out, for example.
What’s It Not Good At?
Kevo hasn’t released a version of the Kwikset app for Android. This immediately cuts out a large portion of the smartphone market — and it actually made the testing a little more difficult for me, since I had to search through a pile of phones and dig up an iPhone 5S; my older iPhone 4 isn’t supported by Kevo’s app. An Android app is apparently on the way once Kevo sees a more widespread release of Android 5.0 Lollipop, according to the company — there is a beta program but for all intents and purposes it’s restricted to a very small group.
There’s also no facility for the Kwikset to integrate with any other home automation services. You have to think of it as an entirely standalone, individual product — it won’t work with your home security system, your Phillips Hue lights, or your bespoke Crestron setup. Despite the fact that Kwikset necessarily needs to lock off its app and Bluetooth keys to ensure as much security as possible, it would have been nice to use something like Crestron’s Mobile Pro to unlock your house and turn on your lights at the same time.
My house is generally a pretty busy place in terms of wireless signals, and in a little bit of testing, there were one or two instances where I had my test smartphone well within range but the Kwikset didn’t unlock itself when tapped. This never occurred with the fob, though, so it may well be an issue with the iPhone’s low-power Bluetooth itself. And, of course, despite all the Kwikset’s smarts, it’s definitely a good idea to carry one of the two included keys with you when you’re out of the house just in case. Wireless technology just isn’t quite there yet.
Should You Buy It?
Right now? If you have an iPhone, and if you live in a house with a family with a bunch of iPhones, and if all those family members keep their iPhones charged and ready and with them at all times, then the $329 Kevo Kwikset smart lock is really, really cool. It’s great fun to use.
In the cold, bleak, un-smart world that we live in today, I struggle to search through my satchel one-handed to find my keys and put them into my front door lock to get into my house. If I had the Kevo Kwikset, I could just swan up with phone in pocket and tap the lock. But I can’t, because my family has a mix of iPhone, Android — and even an old Nokia running Symbian, actually.
Not having Android support is a big detriment to the Kwikset, but that’s an issue that should hopefully be addressed promptly. I don’t think you should ever expect Windows Phone or Blackberry support, to be honest, but that’s a tiny segment of the market anyway. As home locks go, even apart from its smarts, the Kwikset is a very secure device — it’s bump- and pick-proof, and the entire lock and electronics housing is very weighty and well constructed.
If you have $300 to spend on a lock for your front door — and that’s a lot of money, when you can get a perfectly good dumb deadbolt for less than $100 — then the Kevo Kwikset is one of the smartest and simplest to install and simplest to use that you can find.