Locksmiths appreciate tools that help complete jobs efficiently and properly. A source of modern tools, believe it or not, are smart phone applications, or apps. While apps cannot and will not accomplish tasks such as pinning a cylinder or cut a key they can supplement these tasks by providing pinning charts or providing bittings for a blind code, respectively. With that in mind, I decided to list a few of the apps available to locksmiths that can assist with day-to-day jobs. While this isn’t a full, comprehensive list (and that may be something we compile for you not too far down the road), it represents a good portion of what is out there. If you have any recommendations or comments, feel free to leave them below so that others may see. Without further ado, here is a partial list of available locksmith apps:
A2Calc is an app that can create pinning charts AND decode a core to determine the control key for 6 and 7-pin A2 SFIC systems. While there are pinning worksheets (much like the ones we have!) and desktop/laptop software available to do the same, A2Calc is unique in that it relies on nothing more than what you already have: your phone. With A2Calc, you can save up to 16 systems at one time, all of which can be encrypted and password protected. Not bad. A2Calc is a valuable tool if you don’t do SFIC work often enough to commit pinning rules and formulas to memory. And, if you require them, A3 and A4 versions exist for an additional, separate cost.
Cost: $4.99 iPhone: Yes Android: No
BILT, the only app on this list that isn’t exclusively locksmith-oriented, features step-by-step assembly and repair instructions of products in an interactive, 3D format. Imagine if you need to install or remove a Medeco Maxum deadbolt for the first time; not a problem with BILT. BILT will show you the process, the tools required, and any applicable information. Perhaps the only drawback to BILT is that, at the moment, there aren’t that many locks and door hardware featured. But, because apps are updatable, I’m sure this list will grow in the future. As a neat added bonus, there’s instructions for hundreds, if not thousands, of other products such as grills, high chairs, the list goes on and on. It’s not only a great app for locksmithing but also for those “around the house” projects.
Cost: Free iPhone: Yes Android: Yes
InstaCode Live is a modular, subscription based app. When I say modular I mean that, at the very least, it functions like traditional code software but you can increase it’s available features with “add-ons” in your monthly subscription. These add-ons include: automotive opening instructions, a database of vehicle immobilizer system information, and a Find Bitting/Wafer Swapper that helps you cross-reference partial, known cuts against code series using “Fill” and “Cutting Tree” features.
LFIC is an app that can calculate pinning charts for Corbin Russwin (System 70 and Pre-System 70), Sargent, and Medeco 32 series cores. Like A2Calc, this app is good if you don’t do this work often enough to commit it to memory but still feel confident enough to take on the job.
Cost: $4.79 iPhone: Yes Android: No
Master It is a self-proclaimed “on-the-fly master keying app”. Master It is designed to create up to 3-level master key systems (with up to 64 changes per master) in a matrix format for Arrow .014″, Kwikset .023″, Sargent .020″, Schlage .015″, Weiser .018″, and Yale. 019″ key bitting specifications. Much like the A2Calc, which coincidentally was developed by the same author of Master It – Phil Domenici, Master It is a valuable tool if you don’t create master key systems often enough to familiarize yourself with the rules and various key bitting specifications.
Cost: $4.99 iPhone: Yes Android: No
PadPal is by far my favorite locksmith app. PadPal contains concise, summarized programming instructions for the most popular stand-alone keypad locks, mechanical and electronic, as well as electronic safe locks. In addition to these instructions, there are links for each model to the manufacturer’s manual that will open in your browser with click. Simply open the app, scroll through the nearly 40 models available, and select the model’s image to access the information. This is a VALUABLE tool to have if you’re called to change the code(s) on a lock you might not be familiar with. No more searching Google or fumbling through your folders/files to locate the instructions – it’s all right there.
Cost: Free iPhone: Yes Android: No
Forget using micrometers or calipers or key gauges (at least, as much), Snap Decoder can decode keys using just the blank information and a picture of the key. This process, with adequate lighting and a proper background, can be accomplished in seconds. The app comes with pre-loaded key blank references for Keyline, Silca, Ilco, and JMA blanks and can reference up to 6500 key series.
Cost: Free; Integrates w/ InstaCode Live. iPhone: No Android: Yes
Aftermarket apps aren’t the only available to locksmiths. More and more manufacturers are now providing apps to support their products. This support can come in the form of product-interface apps, such as Allegion’s ENGAGE apps which allow configuration of their NDE locks, to information-based apps, such as Falcon’s How-To app. The following manufacturers offer free apps to support their products:
Of those, Falcon, LCN, Schlage (electronic and mechanical products), and Von Duprin have “How-To” apps dedicated to their product lines which feature instructional videos, catalogs, and installation instructions. If you sell or service any products offered by these brands then I cannot stress how beneficial these apps are. Take a moment to download them and give them a shot next time you’re at a job and require information.