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August smart lock launches today, rolls out to Apple Stores this week

Update: After well over a year of intensive development, the August Smart Lock is finally on the market. The lock can now be purchased for $249.99, and starting this week, will begin to appear both online and on physical shelves at Apple Stores across the country. In contrast to most other smart locks currently on the market, August is designed as a retrofittable add-on to your existing lock. It installs in minutes, and essentially adds remote control and automatic unlocking features to the deadbolt that’s already in your door.

Described by its maker as “keyless, codeless and completely secure”, the August Smart Lock provides anyone with a front door another way to secure their premises besides the humble key.

The digital lock, which was unveiled at the D11 conference in California this past week, is the creation of acclaimed designer Yves Behar (known for the Jambox and Ouya game console) and entrepreneur Jason Johnson. The idea, say its creators, is that the August Smart Lock will act as a “virtual doorman”, allowing the home owner to control precisely who enters their home and when – without the need for a key.

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To operate August, the owner sends invitations, or virtual keys, to others using an app on their smartphone. The app allows you to stipulate for how long the recipient can access the premises – so, for example, a plumber may have a two-hour slot in which to enter, while friends invited over for a party could be allowed access throughout an entire evening. That’s right, the days when you have to actually drag yourself off your sofa to answer the door could soon be over.

Bluetooth pairing between the lock and the phone means those with an invitation need only approach the door – with phone in bag or pocket – for it to unlock. Of course, once you’re inside, the door will automatically lock itself again when it closes.

Related: August Smart Lock review

Via the app, the system also gives the user access to an entry log with details of everyone who’s come and gone, and you can leave messages and photos for visitors for when they arrive, too.

Designer Yves Behar has come up with a beautiful, modern design for August – just be sure you’ve got a front door to match. It comprises durable anodized aluminum and LEDs that light up when it’s in operation. No messy, unsightly wires are involved as the device runs on four standard batteries – and you needn’t be concerned about suddenly discovering they’ve run out of juice as the app includes a battery level indicator. As a back up, you’ll be notified via email when they need replacing.

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Of course, August isn’t the first device of this kind to hit the market – there’s the recently launched Kevo lock, for one – but it may well be the most eye-catching.

The August Smart Lock, which its designers say can be fitted to an existing deadbolt in a matter of minutes, is set to go on sale later this year with a $199 price tag. It’ll launch with a web app as well as a mobile app, and will work with any Bluetooth-LE-enabled smartphone.

This article was originally published on May 30, 2013, and was updated to with new availability information. Drew Prindle contributed to this article.