Today we’re going to look at a home automation based service that works primarily as a trigger to kick off other IFTTT actions rather than providing actions of its own: IFTTT’s service for the popular August Smart Lock.
Last week we began a series on automating tasks with the IFTTT (IF This Then That) service, providing an introduction to how the service works and focusing in on tying it into the popular Hue automated lighting platform. This article — and those that will follow — assume that you have a working familiarity with IFTTT, so be sure to take a look at our introductory article if you haven’t used IFTTT before or simply need a refresher on the basics.
The August service provides four triggers, all of which are mostly self-explanatory: Lock Unlocked and Lock Locked will fire off whenever the associated August Smart Lock is unlocked or locked using any method, whether it’s August’s smartphone app, entering a code on a Smart Keypad, or manually using a key or simply turning the knob from inside.
Two other triggers allow you to run an IFTTT applet only when the lock is actuated by a specific August user. Since there’s no way to tell who is manually locking or unlocking your door, these triggers only work if the August Smart Lock is locked or unlocked using the August smartphone app or unlocked using the Smart Keypad (one-touch locking from the Smart Keypad naturally can’t be used to identify a specific user, either).
It’s also worth adding that your August Smart Lock needs to be Internet-connected in order to use IFTTT, which means you’ll either need to be using an August Connect or an August Doorbell Cam to provide a gateway to the Internet for the otherwise-Bluetooth-only lock.
IFTTT’s August service does not provide any actions. This means that you won’t be able to use IFTTT to actually lock or unlock your door, only to detect when it actually is locked or unlocked. From a security perspective, we think this is probably a good idea — regardless of how trustworthy you consider IFTTT, the fewer points of access for a hacker to get at devices such as door locks, the better.
So with that in mind, here are a couple of basic ideas for things you can do with your August Smart Lock and IFTTT.
Turn on the lights when the front door is unlocked
One that we find particularly useful is turning on your lights when your front door is unlocked. It’s a fairly simple applet as long as you’re using a compatible lighting solution such as Hue or Lutron.
Keep in mind, however, that August and IFTTT have no way of knowing whether you’re unlocking your door from the outside or inside, so this applet will fire off every time you unlock your door — even from the inside. Further, if you’re imagining routines that do things like turn off the lights in your house when you’re leaving, you won’t be able to do this unless you also want to turn off all of your lights when you lock your door after entering your house.
Send a text message whenever your door is unlocked
IFTTT’s SMS service can be used to send a text message to your cell phone each time your door is unlocked. You’ll need to configure the SMS service and enter and confirm your phone number, and then just add it to the applet like any other action.
This action also introduces a concept we haven’t looked at yet: ingredients. An ingredient is basically like a variable, and refers to elements from the triggering service that can be used in the action — in this case, the User, the Lockname, and the Housename. Clicking on “Add Ingredient” in the action panel will show a list of additional ingredients that can be included from the selected triggering service.
Log activity into a Google Spreadsheet
Using ingredients, we can also get even fancier, and tie in the Google Sheets IFTTT action to log all of the unlocking activity at our front door.
This applet will add a new row at the bottom of a Google Sheets worksheet with the relevant information — by default a row containing the date and time the lock was unlocked, the name of the lock, the word “Unlocked” and the name and photo of the user who unlocked the door (if available). This can be customized further, however, simply by editing the “Formatted row” field in the IFTTT action.
Stay tuned for part two for more ideas on some of the cool things you can do with an August Smart Lock and IFTTT.