Level has a new version of its high-end smart deadbolt, the Level Lock+. The feature that sets it apart from the earlier Level Lock, Level Lock – Touch Edition, and the retrofit Level Bolt— all of which hide their electronics in the lock mechanism itself—is support for the Home Key technology that Apple introduced with iOS 15.
Home Key support allows iPhone and Apple Watch users to store a code in their Apple Wallet that will unlock the Lock+ when the user’s smartphone or smart watch is held near the lock. For additional security, you can configure Home Key to require that your device also be unlocked with facial recognition or a PIN while it’s near the lock. You can also open the lock with a touch, using an NFC keycard (two are included), with a physical key, or with a $79 optional keypad.
iPhone users needn’t worry about being locked out of the house if their phone’s battery dies while they’re out and about. Apple designed Home Key so that it remains available even if the phone’s battery needs to be recharged.
The Level Lock+ itself is priced the same as the Level Lock Touch Edition—$329—and is available in matte black (online only) or brushed nickel exclusively at Apple Stores and online at launch. In fact, Apple put the lock on store shelves earlier this week, several days before the product was officially announced.
Despite its close association with Apple—both of Level’s co-founders are Apple alumni—all the company’s smart locks are also compatible with Android smartphones and work in the Amazon Alexa ecosystem.
Currently, however, they are not compatible with Google Assistant. Why? “Google doesn’t have a local hub platform that we can communicate with,” said Level’s chief technology officer, Ken Goto. “Google uses Weave internally, but that’s not available publicly to third parties.”
During our interview, Goto also told me that adding Home Key support required a hardware change, so the company won’t be able to add that support to existing Level Locks with a firmware update.
Level’s Locks use Bluetooth and NFC technology to operate, so they depend on a bridge for cloud-to-cloud communication if you want to control them remotely or with a smart speaker. In an Apple HomeKit-centered home, that bridge comes in the form of an Apple HomePod mini or Apple TV 4K. Using a Level Lock with Alexa depends on having an Amazon Sidewalk bridge, in the form a compatible Ring or Alexa device.
Look for our in-depth review of the Level Lock+ in the coming weeks.