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Smart Home

Alarm.com launches an Apple Watch extension to manage security at a glance

The subscription based security company gets in on the Apple hype with new controls customized for the Apple Watch.

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Alarm.com

Alarm.com is jumping on the WatchKit bandwagon early. And it got a featured demo at Apple's Spring Forward Event today, where Apple VP Kevin Lynch used the new Alarm.com app extension for the Apple Watch to remotely open his garage door. He was even able to use the Watch's screen to watch it happen in real time.

Alarm.com's subscription based security and smart home service has long featured an iOS app. After talking with Alarm.com's chief product officer, Dan Kerzner, we learned a bit more. The new, Watch-specific extension of that app will allow full control of all of your Alarm.com devices and feature functionality specifically designed for at a glance convenience.

Unique Functionality

The added functionality, appropriately called "Glances" also received a demo. With a swipe, you'll be able to view a summary of your home's status, including your garage door, your connected locks, your security system and even your lights. Open the app, and you'll get the full suite of Alarm.com controls, so you can manage and customize each of your compatible devices.

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alarm.com

Of course, in order to make the Alarm.com app worthwhile, you'll need an Alarm.com system. The subscription-based, contractor-installed service offers a number of package tiers. Alarm.com offers options including the lights, locks, and garage doors mentioned above, as well as smart thermostats and cameras. You'll need the latter to be able to get the live view employed by Mr. Lynch today.

Viewing your smart home

At launch, you'll only be able to associate a camera to your garage door for a quick view, Kerzner told us. If you want to lock the front door and take a glance at it during the process, you'll need to access two separate devices in the app instead of viewing them together as in the garage door demo.

Kerzner also said Alarm.com intends to expand this linked functionality to the rest of its devices. Hopefully, you'll be able to pull up a picture of any door as you remotely control its lock, or any area in the home as you manipulate the lights. It would certainly make for a simpler interface ideal for the smaller format of a wearable.

Customized Features

All Alarm.com devices can be purchased now on the Alarm.com site. Once you've bought into the system, you can add more devices a la carte. Kerzner expects the watch extension to be fully up and running by the time the Apple Watch ships on April 24th.

Rounding out the new wrist-based security controls offered by Alarm.com are actionable notifications. The app uses your phone for geofencing, so if you leave home and forget to close your garage door or lock up, your watch will let you know. You can fix the situation from that screen without opening the app.

Missing HomeKit

Noticeably missing from either the demonstration during the Apple Event or the Alarm.com page for the new Apple Watch extension is any mention of HomeKit. Apple has been quiet about it's software for unifying the smart home since it was announced last June. Kerzner referred to his company's app as "WatchKit"-based, referring to Apple's Apple Watch-specific software development kit. He wouldn't go on the record as to whether it was also a HomeKit-based app, although Alarm.com has not yet been announced as an official Apple HomeKit partner.

Assuming Alarm.com's app does not integrate with HomeKit (and yes, it's possible for an app to be both HomeKit and WatchKit-based), and the Apple smart home ecosystem begins to look rather confusing for consumers. The Alarm.com app also looks less feature-rich. Kerzner did confirm that the Alarm.com Watch app will not have any kind of voice command support. Siri-based voice input is a highlight feature for apps that are a member of the HomeKit eco-system. (we saw a handful of HomeKit compatible devices during this January's CES).

An Alarm.com representative did say that the company will be supporting HomeKit in the future, but if Alarm.com's app isn't HomeKit-compatible, the quick button presses that opened the garage and seemed so cool today might feel dated when people can talk to their wrist to do the same thing.

Outlook

Given the increasing amount of DIY smart home security, Alarm.com looks smart to have this specific watch functionality ready to go so early. Once Apple flips the switch on HomeKit, and depending on how well other smart home apps extend their controls to the Apple Watch, I'll be interested to see how Alarm.com keeps this advantage.

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