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Kwikset's Kevo smart lock adds Android support (sort of)

The official launch of a Kevo app in the Google Play Store opens the door for Android users -- provided they have the right device.

Josh Miller/CNET

Months after the launch of the invite-only Kevo Beta Program for Android Lollipop, an official control app for the Kwikset Kevo Bluetooth Deadbolt is now live on the Google Play Store.

Lack of Android support has been a key criticism of UniKey's smart lock since its release back in 2013. The Kevo uses Bluetooth LE (also known as Bluetooth 4.0 or Bluetooth Smart) to pair with your smartphone or with a keychain fob. When the Kevo detects you standing outside the door, it'll let you enter simply by tapping on the lock.

kwikset-kevo-android.jpg
UniKey

The problem there, at least for Android users, is that Android devices weren't compatible with the Kevo's brand of Bluetooth back in 2013. Even Android devices with Bluetooth LE weren't able to work with the lock -- operating systems like Jelly Bean and KitKat only include support for Bluetooth LE's central communication role, and the Kevo requires your phone to work with role number two: peripheral. Basically, the Kevo uses the central role to listen for your smartphone, and it needs a smartphone that can announce itself using the peripheral role.

The good news is that Android's newest operating system adds in full support for Bluetooth LE, including both central and peripheral communication. As of now, that brings immediate Kevo compatibility to the the Samsung Galaxy S5 , the Nexus 6 and the Nexus 9 tablet .

If that sounds like limited appeal, you're not wrong -- recent numbers from the Android Developers Dashboard show that Lollipop has thus far landed on just 1.6 percent of Android devices. Factor out the tablets, which obviously make ridiculously large key replacements, and the number shrinks further still.

Fortunately, that percentage should inch upward as Lollipop continues rolling out in 2015. For now, Android users can join Kevo's Alpha group to receive a notification when their device becomes supported -- unless they get tempted in the meantime by a smart lock that's more Android-friendly, such as the KitKat-compatible August or the Yale Real Living NFC Deadbolt .

The Kwikset Kevo is sold online and at US retail outlets like Lowe's, Home Depot, and Best Buy for $219 (about £140 or AU$280). A Kevo Plus gateway accessory designed to extend remote lock/unlock functionality beyond the home is due in the coming months -- pricing isn't set in stone yet, but the upgrade will come with a service fee.