As first announced at WWDC 2021, iOS 15 develops Apple Wallet to store keys for hotels, homes and even cars. The Schlage Encode Plus is the first consumer lock solution to take advantage of NFC-powered Apple Home Key support.
As you’ll see in my hands-on video, the Home key is a great way to access your home with your iPhone or Apple Watch with just one tap. Let’s take a look at what the technology from the Schlage Encode Plus and Apple’s Home has to offer!
- smart wifi deadbolt
- touchscreen keypad entry
- physical key entry
- HomeKit and Siri are supported with the Home Hub (Apple TV, HomePod, etc.).
- NFC Tap-to-Unlock w/ Apple Home Key Support for iPhone or Apple Watch
- Express Mode support for unlocking without authentication
- Unlock via NFC with Dead iPhone
- schedule code
- add guest access
- Security Alerts and Notifications
- Also works with Alexa and Google Assistant
- Network Protocols: Wi-Fi, NFC, Bluetooth, Thread
Video Review: Sledge Encode Plus w/ Apple Home Key
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Founded in 1920, Schlage has a long history in the lock business, so it is clearly above board when it comes to critical areas such as security and durability – it is simply a matter of taking its expertise in the lock business and adding modern features. The thing is.
The My Schlage Encode Plus is in century style, creating a very modern looking design. All have three finish options including matte black, aged bronze, and satin nickel, as well as a more traditional Camelot design option at launch.
installation is simple
As someone who has installed a ton of smart locks to test out over the years, I can set up a new lock in my sleep. As long as your door has the necessary cutouts — and the door is properly aligned when closed — installation should be a breeze. I had the Encode Plus installed in less than 10 minutes, and that included removing my existing Yale Smart Lock.
Installation is simply a matter of removing the existing lock, installing the dead bolt and strike plate, installing the touchscreen and associated backplate, connecting the cable, and securing the inside lock with a thumb-turn.
This may sound like a lot, but it can be done in just a few minutes with nothing more than a Phillips screwdriver. Trust me, I’m the farthest thing from an easy guy, so if I can do it, maybe you can too.
Once all the hardware is installed, you will need to add the batteries to the battery holder, and slide the holder inside the lock. From there, it’s just a matter of initiating setup via NFC.
HomeKit and home key support
The Encode Plus supports HomeKit connectivity, which gives you the ability to control the lock using the Home app, HomeKit automation, and Siri voice control.
But it’s the home key support that separates the Schlage Encode Plus from its non-Plus version and other smart locks on the market. The Home Key combines the convenience and ease of use of NFC, which allows you to tap the lock with your iPhone or Apple Watch to lock your door. I must say it’s quite enjoyable, and if you’ve ever used Apple Pay, you’re quite familiar with the way the Home key works.
Initial setup of HomeKit and Home Key is also accomplished via NFC. Simply tap your iPhone on the NFC tag on the back of the inside cover after pressing the pairing button, and you’ll be prompted to set up your lock.
After selecting your home, lock location and name, you will be asked to set up your home key to store it in the Wallet app. The Home keys usually require you to authenticate with Touch ID or Face ID, but you can enable Express Mode, which lets you unlock without needing to authenticate.
Finally, the setup process will prompt you to create an access code for residents and guests. For example, if dog walkers need to come, you can assign them with your own guest code. These access codes can be entered on the physical touchscreen of the lock to gain entry into the residence.
Too many incorrect access code attempts result in a temporary lock out
Like all HomeKit-enabled products, you can use automation to do things like automatically turn on the porch light when the Smart Lock is unlocked, or automatically turn on when a sensor detects that the door is closed. gets locked out of.
While the standard HomeKit works just as you’d expect from the Schlage Encode Plus, the standout feature is the Home Key support, especially when used with the Apple Watch. Home key support turns your Apple Watch into an NFC-enabled key you can simply tap to unlock your door. There’s no buttons to press, no mindless Siri to misinterpret your request, or anything like that. If you can lift your wrist to the Schlage Encode Plus, you can unlock your door.
Another great thing about the Apple Home key is that it supports the Power Reserve feature that was initially introduced in iOS 14 with Express Transit. Power Reserve remains active for five hours after your iPhone dies. Even if the power to your iPhone goes out, you will still be able to unlock your door using the home key for a limited time. And, of course, you can always rely on an access code, or use a hardware key to unlock your door like a beast.
On the subject of battery life, the Sledge Encode Plus runs on four AAA batteries, and can last about a year when configured using HomeKit only. If you plan to frequently use other network protocols, such as WiFi via the Sledge app, expect battery life to be reduced.
What if you lose your iPhone?
If you lose your home key-configured iPhone, you may be concerned that someone is gaining access to your residence via NFC, but don’t worry. If you enable Lost Mode through Find My, it will disable Apple Wallet access, which includes the Apple Home key. When you pair with your iPhone again and disable Lost Mode, the Home key is activated again.
things i want to see improvement in
There are a few things I’d like to see Schlage improve with version two of the device, namely the ability to see if your lock is locked remotely via an LED indicator. The Yale Assure SL has this feature, and I find it very handy to verify that my door is locked in the dark. I also wish the Sledge had opted for a higher quality touchscreen keypad and backlight. That’s enough, but it’s not as good as Yale.
HomeKit API needs to support access code scheduling and history
I’d like to watch out for Apple locks HomeKit to provide temporary and recurring access code support and access code history. Schlage has those features in its app, but you can’t use them with HomeKit. Apple really needs to improve the HomeKit framework in this regard; Making it possible to audit usage, provide virtual keys with temporary access, etc.
As you know, I’ve been a big fan of the Yale Assure SL Smart Lock, so much so that I’ve bought three of them and used them for the past four years. But after using the Sledge Encode Plus, I can say without a doubt that it’s my new favorite smart lock.
The Sledge Encode Plus does it all. Not only does it work with HomeKit, which lets you unlock your lock with the Home app through automation or via Siri, but it also has a handy touchscreen, and supports traditional keys. On top of all that, the Schlage Encode Plus is the first consumer lock to have Apple Home key support in tow. Because the Home Key works via NFC, you can easily unlock your door from your iPhone or Apple Watch with just one tap – and it just works. If I ever decide to upgrade my locks, it will definitely be the one with Apple Home Key support.
Details about Sledge Encode Plus availability haven’t fully materialized yet, but it is due sometime this spring. Rest assured we’ll follow up as we learn more, and also be sure to post about my long-term thoughts with the lock after some extended use. In the meantime, let us know what you think of the house key. Sound off below in the comments with your thoughts.
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