After I bought my new home, I decided I wanted to get into home automation. Unlike my previous places, I knew I was going to stay here for awhile, I’m lazy as hell, and it’s something I always wanted to do.

I landed on HomeKit. I wanted something that would just work and I’m already somewhat bought into the ecosystem. It’s also slowly been maturing, and well, I trust their efforts to keep my data just that… mine. It still has a way to go though, it doesn’t support every type of smart device or the way I want them to; locks were no exception.

I started out with the August lock for my door, it was actually one of the first smart devices I bought. I was super excited, it worked exactly the way I wanted it to… until it didn’t. I liked that it would auto lock and unlock, I could share access with others, and it worked with HomeKit, but the damn thing only did that half the time. It would reconnect to WiFi all the time and it only auto-unlocked about half the time, when I came home. Super frustrating. I RMAed the thing, but the next one wouldn’t even connect to HomeKit.

Nope, just nope. I’m done with August.

Level locks were just becoming known and I appreciated the minimalism of them, so I gave it a shot. It was pretty cool, but it was missing the auto-unlock feature. I suppose I could live without it, but I’ve grown accustom to not really needing to dig for my keys, for pretty much anything. There’s something to be said about just walking up to your car or homes door and being able to get in, or being able to just walk away and know it’s going to lock up after you.

I tried an automation for it: when I get home, unlock the door. But it prompts you every damn time. The only reasonable solution I came up with was to try out RFID tags. So I bought a cheap pack, got them in, created a little automation, and… it worked! Then I tried again, and nothing? It only ever ran the first time, then would auto-disable itself, if I told it not to prompt me… sigh.

I did some reading and Apple seemingly, purposely, locked that type of feature down. I got to reading and some people mentioned you can have another device trigger an unlock, without a problem. Others were hooking them up to a light, but I didn’t want that, so I bought a Wemo smart switch that was being discontinued, for cheap.

The TL;DR of it is I set up these automations:

  • When a scan my RFID tag, turn on my “fake door” smart switch
  • When my smart switch turns on, unlock my door
  • When my door is locked, turn off my smart switch

Since my lock is set to auto-lock, everything stays in the correct state. It seems to be working pretty well so far, without having to unlock my phone or respond to a prompt. Reading RFID tags can be a bit hit or miss on iOS, still, but I’ll take it, for now. At least I don’t have to reach for my keys, or worse, deal with that August junk.