UPS is expanding its partnership with smart lock startup Latch with availability in 10 more cities. Similar to Amazon Key, the Latch service lets drivers make deliveries in apartment buildings for residents who aren’t home, but it stops short of letting them through your front door.
By the middle of the year, Latch will arrive in Atlanta, Chicago, Los Angeles, Houston, Dallas, Washington, DC, Philadelphia, Boston, Miami, and Seattle. Latch is currently operating in New York and San Francisco.
Latch works by letting residents and building staff use its mobile app, a code, or a keycard to enter the building. Each of its locks has a built-in wide-angle camera to record any interactions from non-residents, and the footage can be viewed through the app.
The new expansion proves that Latch’s initial launch in New York last year wasn’t just a city-bound exclusive and that the service might end up competing with Amazon Key. “Nationwide growth has always been the plan,” Luke Schoenfelder, CEO and founder of Latch, tells The Verge.
Still, Schoenfelder insists that Amazon isn’t a direct competitor given that Latch is focused more on “dense urban settings where package drop-off wasn’t possible before” and providing a more “mainstream” solution, while Amazon focuses on fulfilling its own deliveries.
The Latch service works with any UPS deliveries, including from Amazon and Walmart. But given that Amazon just launched Key for Business this month, which offers businesses the ability to grant drivers a “smart fob” to unlock a building’s access system, the two services may just end up competing in the end.
Unlike Amazon Key, Latch works with apartment buildings to gain access for drivers, so individual apartment residents aren’t able to purchase the services themselves. Schoenfelder tells The Verge that for now, that’s staying the same and Latch doesn’t have anything to announce regarding selling the service directly to consumers at this point. That’s the biggest distinction between Latch and Amazon Key, and quite possibly the biggest deterrence to the service seeing widespread adoption — you’ll need your apartment building to opt in for you.