August Debuts Home Access Service, Siri-Enabled Smart Locks
One year to the day after the tech company August introduced its first Apple-compatible smart lock, it has unveiled three new smart-home products and a beta service to let homeowners remotely open their doors to service providers.
The new service, part of a platform called August Access, is being offered in partnership with a baker's dozen of home services providers. Among them are Sears, Postmates and Pro.com.
August Access is designed to work in conjunction with a trio of new products announced today by the San Francisco-based firm. Those products include a new Apple HomeKit-enabled August Smart Lock, along with a smart keypad and doorbell camera.
Support for Siri Voice Control
"[T]here are still many challenges that customers and service providers face when it comes to simple, secure home access," said August co-founder and CEO Jason Johnson. Today's announcements represent "the next major step in our mission to deliver a complete system to manage, monitor, and control home access from anywhere," he added.
Currently running in beta, August Access gives customers with installed August Smart Locks in-app access to a roster of 13 home service provider partners. Users can then schedule services such as deliveries, housecleaning or pet care and set up their smart locks so that the responding service people can get one-time or regular access to their homes.
Among the other August Access partners so far are BloomNation, Doorman, Envoy, Fetch, Handy, HelloAlfred, Pillow, Rinse, Shyp and Wag!
With the new products announced today, August customers will be able to use smart locks based on Apple's HomeKit iOS platform, which enables voice control integrated with Siri, Apple's personal digital assistant technology. A companion Smart KeyPad will enable a service person to access a home by inputting a unique code that is available for either one-time or repeat use, while a doorbell camera lets homeowners remotely view visitors at their front doors and decide whether or not to let them in.
August also allows customers to control its devices through Google's Android app, although the company hasn't yet announced any integration with Google's smart-home technology, OnHub, or its GoogleNow digital assistant. (Google owns Nest, another tech company that makes smart thermostats and other devices for the connected home.)
Look for More Partnerships and Cross-Promotions
Frank Gillett, an analyst with Forrester Research Inc., told us that partnerships like those announced with August Access will be a necessary part of the smart-home evolution.
"Apple and Google will battle to be the dominant app interface and software platform -- but they won't be controlling or taking over those markets," Gillett said in a July blog post. "Instead, individual companies will soon be experimenting with how to promote and even subsidize smart-home products to create interactive relationships with their customers that simply weren't possible before."
Nest, for example, has teamed up with home insurers that provide subsidies for homeowners who install the company's smart smoke detectors.
With the large amounts of money that people spend on home services -- and the large payouts that insurance providers face for things like smoke, fire and water damage -- it makes sense for smart-home tech companies to team up with outside partners, Gillett said. The result won't be a new market so much as redefined existing ones, he added.
"The way it's going to work is in making things simpler and easier," Gillett told us. "All of these products will have to find ways to work together and integrate into people's lives."