Yes, you can auto-unlock your smart lock with HomeKit. Here’s the workaround

How often are your hands full with files, devices, bags, or groceries when returning home? Wouldn’t it be nice to reach your front door and just always have it unlocked for you? It’s like your lock is welcoming you home every time you arrive. 

Many available smart locks on the market have an auto-unlock feature that you enable on a phone app so your door unlocks when you approach it. It’s like having your own little digital doorman. The Apple HomeKit, however, is limited in how it lets you use this feature, unless you can work around its system. In this article, I explain how to set up auto-unlock on your Apple HomeKit.

ZDNet Recommends: Yale Assure Lock SL (review)

When we looked into setting up smart devices at home, we ended up getting an Apple HomePod mini to set up with HomeKit because we appreciate the value Apple puts on the privacy and security of their customers. Unfortunately, Apple’s approach to privacy and security also means that it doesn’t allow automations that undo a lock without confirmation. This means that you’ll end up having to unlock your phone and open the app to confirm it every time you get home for the automation to work. This defeats the purpose of having the auto-unlock feature.

However, if you prefer using HomeKit, you don’t have to purchase a different smart lock, you just need what you have to work better for you.

But how do you bypass this? There are essentially two options: You can use Homebridge or you can set up a geofence trigger to a different HomeKit device, and then one more automation from that device to your lock. While we do use Homebridge in our house, I’ll focus on the trigger option here, since it’s the most straightforward one.

We like the Yale Assure Lock SL, and wanted it to auto-unlock every time we arrived at home. Our trigger is a Lifx bulb we have in our home office. We’ll call it Tall Lamp. Essentially, we set up an automation to turn on Tall Lamp every time we arrive at home and another automation to unlock Yale Lock every time the lamp comes on. Here’s how we did that

1. Open the HomeKit App and go to Automation.

Select Automation in your HomeKit app

Your devices and options will appear on your home, select Automation

2. Tap on the Plus (+) sign to add an automation.

Select the plus sign on top right of screen

Tap on the top right corner to add a new automation

3. Choose People Arrive to set the light to turn on when you get home.

Select People Arrive on New Automation

Choose People Arrive to set up automation

4. Make sure I Arrive is checked and tap on Next.

Make sure I Arrive is checked

Ensure “I Arrive” is checked 

5. Choose your trigger, in this case Tall Lamp, and tap Next.

Select the device that will trigger your lock

I chose the tall lamp to turn on when I arrive home

6. Confirm everything looks correct on your screen and tap Done.

Final page, tap done

Confirm your automation is set and tap Done

The new automation should now appear on your list. We just created the automation that will work as the trigger. Now, when I get home, the office Tall Lamp will turn on. We need to add one more automation so the lock unlocks when the light comes on.

7. Tap on the Plus sign to add another automation.

Go to the Plus and select add automation

Select Add Automation again

8. Choose An Accessory is Controlled to set your lock to unlock when the lightbulb is turned on.

Choose an accessory is controlled

9. Select Tall Lamp as the accessory that will start the automation.

Select the devic

Tap to select the tall lamp or whichever accessory will trigger your smart lock

10. Tap on Turns On, so the lamp turns on when you arrive. 

Select Turns On in Accessory Automation

This is where you’ll select what action will trigger your lock, in this case, Turns On

11. Select the Yale Lock and ensure it shows it as unlock.

Select the smart lock on the screen

Select the lock you want unlocked upon arrival

12. Confirm the automation looks correct “When office lamp turns on > Unlock Yale Lock” and press Done.

Confirm the automation is correct

Confirm everything looks correct on the screen

13. Your automation is ready and in your list of Automations.

Automations are ready

Your automations should appear on your screen

This has worked pretty flawlessly for us, even if it is a workaround. I’d recommend setting up an extra automation to turn off the light maybe five minutes after you arrive or at a certain time of day, whichever you prefer.

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