Relentless OTA software updates continue to be a key advantage for Tesla

The Tesla Model 3 has been in Australia for about 10 months now and as we approach the 1 year anniversary, the car today is a dramatically different vehicle than it was when it shipped, thanks Tesla’s commitment to deliver OTA software updates.

We’ve heard many OEMs promise, but so far, Tesla is the only company that is delivering. After having taken delivery of my Model 3 in late September 2019, there’s been an update almost every single month. These range from a 5% performance boost, to some more fun aspects like entertainment in the car. Many of the updates improve the functionality of the vehicle, in response to user feedback direct to Elon Musk on Twitter.

Time and time again we’ve seen a Tweet turn into a feature, that’s such a dramatically different development path that we’ve ever seen in automotive before.

The most interesting to me personally are definitely the updates that progress the Full Self Driving capabilities of the vehicle. I love the ability to not only just watch the development, but to experience it as it happens, piece by piece, rather than waiting years for a final product.

Some updates definitely fall into the nice to have bucket, while others fall into the really helpful, like showing the side camera feeds when reversing.

Ultimately the big difference here is that the connected platform of a Tesla, enables this development path to be possible and that Tesla continues to allocate the resources to deliver them.

As we see the latest software update, version 2020.28.5 receive a wider release today, I thought it’d be fun to reflect on what’s changed in the last year.

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  • Sentry Mode and Dashcam Dashboard Viewer 
    Saved Dashcam clips can now be watched and deleted directly from the touchscreen via the Dashcam Viewer. This means that drivers no longer have to move the USB drive to their computers to view the footage.
  • Out of Order Supercharger Stalls 
    The dashboard map now informs drivers if there are any stalls unavailable or out of order at Supercharger locations.
  • Track Mode Improvements (Model 3) 
    Track Mode has been improved to make it easier to monitor the status of your car, create custom track mode settings profiles and record your track day data.
  • Driving Visualisation Improvements 
    The driving visualisation has been improved to show traffic lights and select road markings.
  • Dashcam Improvements 
    Dashcam is now easier to setup or erase. After plugging in a USB drive, tap Controls > Safety & Security > FORMAT USB to format and create the associated folders for Dashcam.
  • Fallout Shelter in Arcade 
    Fallout Shelter puts you in control of a state-of-the-art underground Vault from Vault-Tec. Build the perfect Vault, keep your Dwellers happy, and protect them from the dangers of the Wasteland. To play Fallout Shelter, tap Entertainment from the App Launcher, then Arcade > Fallout Shelter.
  • Theatre Mode Improvement 
    With this release, you can now play, pause, and skip video playback with your steering wheel controls while using Theatre Mode. As usual, Theatre Mode is only available while your vehicle is in PARK.
  • TRAX Improvements 
    We have added a piano roll view that allows you to edit and fine tune notes in a track. You can now tap in view to create a note, move or resize it by dragging the tail end of a note, and delete it with a long press. To play a note sound, simply hold and move the notes. In addition, when you tap the record button, a metronome beat will play to make it easier for you to record at the desired time.
  • Backgammon Improvements 
    Playing Backgammon against your Tesla has now become more difficult. The most difficult level has now been trained with 20+ million games. Challenge your Tesla to a game by tapping the Application Launcher, then tap Entertainment > Arcade > Backgammon. 
  • Tesla Toybox 
    The Tesla Toybox has been redesigned to make it easier to view and play. Simply scroll through the toys and adjust the associated controls. As before, to access the Tesla Toybox, tap the Toybox icon from the Application Launcher.
  • Nearby Charging Sites 
    The charging list has been improved to easily filter nearby charging sites based on max power. Simply tap the charging icon on the map and filter by selecting the associated lightning bolt icons.
  • Backup Camera Improvements 
    You can now view video streams coming from your side repeater cameras for added visibility around the vehicle. Model 3 and Model Y: When the backup camera is visible, simply swipe upwards to display the repeater camera video feeds. Model S and Model X: When your vehicle is in Reverse, swipe down to display the repeater camera video feeds. Or, simply tap the Application launcher > Camera > Parking Assist button and swipe or tap the arrow.
  • Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control (available in cars with Full Self Driving Capability Package)
    Traffic Light and Stop Sign Control is designed to recognise and respond to traffic lights and stop signs, slowing your car to a stop when using Traffic-Aware Cruise Control or Autosteer.

It’s weird to say now, but we expect these constant improvements to the vehicle, something not possible with any of the cars Model 3 owners upgraded from. It’s funny how quickly your expectations change, of what a vehicle should offer.

Not only do the software updates delight existing owners, but they also serve as a drawcard for new owners. For competitors, you now have a steep challenge ahead to not only a deliver EVs with great performance and range, but also ongoing improvements to keep pace with the market leader.

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Jason Cartwright
Jason Cartwright
Creator of techAU, Jason has spent the dozen+ years covering technology in Australia and around the world. Bringing a background in multimedia and passion for technology to the job, Cartwright delivers detailed product reviews, event coverage and industry news on a daily basis. Disclaimer: Tesla Shareholder from 20/01/2021

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