Assa Abloy, the company behind the Yale and August brands of connected locks, has released a new smart lock that’s smaller, sleeker, and waiting on the Matter smart home interoperability protocol.
It’s been a while since I reviewed a connected lock. And other than an exhaustively prepared installation process, it’s clear smart locks haven’t changed much since my first Kwikset smart lock install in 2013. It’s also clear that waiting for Matter has frustrated the industry.
The new Assure Lock 2 comes in four versions, and the biggest distinctions have to do with the device’s face and keys. You can get a keyed lock with a touchpad or buttons, or a keyless lock with a touchpad or buttons. The review unit Yale sent me is a keyless lock with a touchpad. Given the climate that I live in, I would have preferred the buttons since I often wear gloves when trying to unlock the door.
Since the first thing my husband asked after the installation process was, “Does this come in silver?” I will tell you that, yes, the lock comes with a black faceplate and the option of black, oil-rubbed bronze, or satin nickel (silver) metal accents. The lock also comes with Bluetooth installed. For additional connectivity, users can add a Wi-Fi module today and can choose Z-Wave in the coming months. And when the Matter standard is officially launched, Yale will have a module that customers can buy for $79.99 to add Matter support by putting in a new cartridge above the battery slot.
If you decide to go with the Bluetooth-only option, the lock will cost between $159.99 and $179.99, depending on the key situation and whether you opt for the keypad or touchscreen. The modules will cost $79.99, although if you choose the Wi-Fi lock the combined price is between $239.99 and $259.99. The long and short of all this pricing is that if you are eager for Matter compatibility in your next door lock, buy the basic Bluetooth lock today and wait until later this fall to buy the Matter module, after the specification is released. (I’m currently hearing that will be in October.)
As a side note, if you have an existing first-generation Yale Assure lock, you can also upgrade that lock using a Matter module when the time comes. In other words, there’s no need to buy this version simply to get an upgrade.
So why might you purchase this particular lock? It’s smaller and fits closer to the door, for one thing. I also like the keypad version because the keys look flatter and less hideous than the typically raised white keys that I see on other keypad locks. Yale says the keys won’t show fingerprints, which would indicate what numbers are in your unlock code. The battery life of the Wi-Fi lock is about six months, according to Yale’s Garrett Lovejoy, a VP of product management, and depending on use, the Bluetooth lock should have enough juice to last a year.
The biggest difference between this lock and the last few locks I installed was that Yale has become overwhelmingly complete in providing the templates needed to measure your door and fit the lock into more uncommon door widths and deadbolt holes. As someone with a typical door, I found the instructions to match and measure all aspects of the door a bit overwhelming.
For someone with a weird door, the instructions will be incredibly helpful, but for a novice smart home DIYer it might also make a really simple process look more complicated than it really is. But once installed, the setup process is incredibly simple. Using the Yale app, you’ll leverage a QR code to connect your phone and authenticate the device. The app will then find your Wi-Fi network (if you have the Wi-Fi version), let you add your passwords, and then add the lock. From there, you’ll name your home and the door the lock is on and start calibrating.
At that point, you can install the included door close sensor, which attaches to the door frame and will let your lock know if the door is open or ajar. This can come in handy if you want a notification whenever the door gets left open. It will also prevent you from locking your deadbolt remotely when the door was actually left open.
To calibrate the lock, the app will take you through a process of unlocking and locking the door with the door open, closed, and ajar. You can also then use the app to create your entry code and link out to various services such as Amazon, Google, etc. Note that if you are a HomeKit user, the Bluetooth lock will work just fine on HomeKit right out of the box.
Controlling the lock through Alexa or Google is easy, and setting up the integrations was a breeze. From command to open took between 10 and 20 seconds. I don’t usually use voice commands to open my lock directly, but I like creating good night routines that automatically lock the doors as I’m heading to bed. In day-to-day life I use an entry code to lock and unlock the door and never carry a set of keys.
But I’m still frustrated by the overall experience. I hate downloading new apps, especially for devices that I want to install and then mostly forget about. A lock is a perfect example of a device where Matter has the potential to make consumers’ and developers’ lives easier. There is a fairly limited set of functions that can be standardized, and I’m pretty sure calibration could be accomplished using on-device learning or even standardized into the data model associated with locks.
And speaking of Matter, while Lovejoy of Yale didn’t admit this, I imagine that it is frustrating for the company to have launched this product and still be waiting for Matter to arrive. It would be easier for Yale and for consumers if the lock could simply ship with a Matter module so consumers don’t have to do a retrofit, even one that’s fairly simple.
Last week, I spoke to a few other device companies that were delaying products until the Matter launch, and they admitted they were frustrated by the slow pace of the standard’s arrival.
I’ll add one small nitpick with this lock. Because it’s smaller than other smart locks on the market, you’ll likely have to do a little touch-up painting if you’re replacing a lock with a larger footprint. Though if you’re going from a dumb deadbolt to this lock, it won’t be a problem because the new Yale Assure Lock 2 is still going to be larger than the traditional deadbolt.