Review: Friday Labs Friday Lock | iLounge

Review

Review: Friday Labs Friday Lock

B+
Recommended

Company: Friday Labs

Model: Friday Lock

Price: $249

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Jesse Hollington

Introduced two years ago via an Indiegogo campaign, Friday Labs finally launched its long-awaited Friday Lock this past spring. Designed in collaboration with renowned architects Bjarke Ingels Group (BIG) — the agency known for the Googleplex and Hyperloop One — Friday Lock tags itself as "the world's smallest smartlock" and emphasizes aesthetics with changeable die-cast metal shells in six different shades, alongside technical features such as HomeKit support and automatic locking and unlocking with the company's Friday Assist technology.

Friday Lock is definitely the most “normal” looking smart lock we’ve encountered — while we do appreciate the aesthetic of the August Smart Lock, there’s also no mistaking August’s product for anything other than a smart lock. Although it’s larger than a typical deadbolt interior thumb knob, Friday Lock could still more easily pass for an artistic design element rather than a piece of technology. Six different shell colors are available — gun metal, bronze, steel, brass, nickel satin and copper — with each including the same core Friday Lock unit, and each also comes with a matching base plate that mounts between the lock and the door if the deadbolt bore hole is too large or if extra spacing is needed or desired.

Rather than using disposable batteries like other smart locks we’ve looked at, Friday Labs also took the rather unique approach of including a rechargeable battery and USB charger in the package. The company notes that the rechargeable battery is the equivalent of 8 standard AA alkaline batteries, and promises three months of normal use on a single charge. Although you won’t be able to use the smart lock features of Friday Lock while the battery is recharging, for most users it shouldn’t be a problem to charge overnight every few months when the door would simply remain locked anyway.

Much like August’s Smart Lock, Friday Lock installs using your existing deadbolt hardware rather than replacing your entire lockset, so you’ll otherwise still be able to continue using your existing physical keys and won’t have to make it obvious that you’re using a smart lock. Friday Lock uses a universal style of plate that should fit most major lock hardware, and includes a colour-matched door adapter plate that can be used if the tailpiece on your deadbolt is too long or the hole in your door is larger than the diameter of the Friday Lock by itself. Two tailpiece adapters are included in the package that should fit most major lock brands. Friday Labs provides clear installation instructions and even a measuring guide for shortening the tailpiece should that be necessary.

Once installed, Friday Lock is then paired with HomeKit using Friday Labs’ free iOS app, which will take you through the usual HomeKit pairing process using the code found on the Friday Lock packaging. Unfortunately, Friday Labs only includes the HomeKit pairing code on the packaging, rather than on the lock itself, so you’ll need to ensure that you either write the code down or keep the packaging in a safe place in case you ever need to re-pair it with HomeKit again in the future. Once set up, the Friday app will take you through a brief calibration procedure that involves closing and locking the door and then opening it and unlocking it.

Update (2017-10-23): Although the HomeKit code was only on the box on the unit we received, Friday Labs contacted us to let us know that the HomeKit pairing code should normally be located both on the box and underneath the product.

In terms of HomeKit integration, Friday Lock works the same as every other door lock we’ve reviewed; you’ll be able to lock and unlock your door via Siri commands, Apple’s Home app, or other third-party HomeKit apps, as well as see whether your door is locked or not and optionally receive notifications whenever your door is locked or unlocked. Beyond this, however, Friday offers its own set of more advanced features through its own companion iOS app, including the ability to issue virtual keys to other iOS users without having to give them full HomeKit access as well as Android users, although at this point there doesn’t appear to be any way to limit virtual keys by time of day or set them to expire. Note that Friday Labs does not provide its own remote access solution for when you’re outside of the home, but instead relies on HomeKit, so you’ll need an Apple TV or iPad to act as a home hub if you want to be able to check your lock status or lock and unlock it when away from home.

Friday also boasts its own Friday Assist feature to automatically lock and unlock the door when you arrive home or when you’re leaving. Automatic unlocking works similar in principle to August’s Smart Lock, combining geolocation and proximity information to determine when you’ve left your neighbourhood and returned and are approaching your door. Automatic unlocking worked reasonably well, although it lacks any configuration options beyond a simple on/off toggle; Friday automatically determines your home location and the Friday app will send you notifications when you leave your home area and when you return with no way to switch these specific notifications off other than disabling all notifications for the Friday app entirely in the iOS Notification Settings.

On the other side, Friday Assist’s automatic locking feature is designed solely to lock the door when you’re leaving, and lacks more advanced capabilities such as automatically re-locking the door. While Friday Labs doesn’t go into details on exactly how the Friday Assist automatic lock works, the lack of a sensor in the door frame suggests that it is using accelerometer-based motion sensing to determine when you close the door; in our testing we had a couple of instances where Friday Lock automatically locked when we abruptly opened the door, and where it did not lock when we closed the door gently. There may also be an internal timer involved, as opening the door and closing it again within a few seconds — such as one might do to quickly toss something back inside the house — also failed to automatically re-lock the door. All of that having been said, the automatic locking feature does work well for most typical day-to-day use, but it’s important to be aware that it’s not foolproof, and we found ourselves waiting a few seconds every time we left just to make sure our door was actually locked before walking away.

If you’ve been looking for a smart lock that doesn’t look like a smart lock, we can’t argue that Friday Lock is a clear winner. However, it’s a tougher call from a technology perspective. The $249 asking price puts it at only $30 less than the considerably more advanced August Smart Lock Pro, which includes all of the same capabilities plus a sensor to determine whether your door is open or closed as well as a Bluetooth-to-Wi-Fi bridge to provide remote access for those without a HomeKit hub. However, it’s fair to say that aesthetics are a very important factor for many homeowners, and if you fall into this category you’ll find Friday Lock to be a capable smart lock that manages to look good also.

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Editors' Note: iLounge only reviews products in "final" form, but many companies now change their offerings - sometimes several times - after our reviews have been published. This iLounge article provides more information on this practice, known as revving.

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