If you own a Tesla and follow Elon Musk on Twitter, chances are, you’ve been eagerly awaiting the latest software release from Tesla. As I wrote yesterday, this holiday update is not V11, instead, the build number is 2020.48.26 and V11 will arrive sometime in 2021.
This morning users online (mostly from America) started to report that they were receiving a Christmas Day present (US time) of the holiday update for their cars.
The new update includes:
New driving visualisation UI
As we’ve seen for a couple of months now from FSD beta users, the updated visualisation of your vehicle on the display, now shows the vehicle in high resolution, positioned at a 3/4 angle and that driving panel now takes up a larger percentage of the screen.
With a 60/40 split of the horizontal real estate, it means just 60% is left for the remaining interface like maps, music, settings etc. The idea here is that the 40% allocated to driving, is able to show you more of the environment around the car.
As we get closer to FSD being a reality, the car will do more of the work of driving, so there’ll be much less need for the driver to review the navigation route, at least not as often, so those pixels can be put to better use.
The 3D vehicle representation is not just eye candy, it now shows real-time information, like when windows are up or down, if the charging port or doors are open, and even if the wheels are turned. This is Tesla showing off their ability to connect their vast array of hardware sensors, and integrating them into an easy-to-understand user interface for the driver and occupants.
In the US, or LHD markets, the driving visualisation pane is on the left, while Australian or other RHD markets, the driving visualisation pane is on the right, closest to the driver.
When driving, you’ll also notice a reconfiguration of the current speed, detected speed limit and Autopilot availability (wheel icon) have all moved, but look to be better positioned that before. There’s a bunch of other small tweaks to positioning of icons like lights, turning indicators, high beams etc, all of which are fairly logical.
Other updates to the UI include changes to the icons we see run across the bottom of the display. The vehicle controls, music, reversing cameras, windscreen wipers and more apps, all get allocated buttons under the new driving visualisation pane, horizontally in-line with climate control window heading / demisting options and volume control. The whole bottom row looks much more uniform and addresses some convenience issues from user feedback.
Accessing your driving history, tyre pressure monitoring etc, remains just a swipe away, indicated by the three dots at the bottom of the diving pane.
Release notes update
Previously the release notes for a new Tesla update were like a standard webpage, a scrolling list of content that listed item after item. Now Tesla are moving to a new interface for updates with this release. Each item can be selected, when then displays detailed information about what’s included in that new or updated aspect of the car.
As Tesla’s software gets more sophisticated, this makes lots of sense, as additional room can now be used to detail specific, more complicated features and include multiple screenshots to explain how a feature works, almost like their digital manual.
All items in the list are presented in a consistent font and format, making the overall look fit well with the grey, black, white restrained UI.
Certainly the most controversial feature is one call Boombox. For those Tesla vehicles who shipped with a noise-making pedestrian speaker mounted under the front of the car, you can customise the sounds played from the speaker and even modify the sound for your horn.
The release notes for the feature say:
Turn your car into boombox and entertain a crowd with your media player when parked. You can also customize the sound your car makes when you press the horn, drive the car, or when your car is moving with Summon. Select an option from the dropdown menu or insert your own USB device and save up to five custom sounds.
This is one of those features that could be miss-used quickly, but I love that Tesla treats it’s customers like adults and allows them to get creative. When you first read about modifying the noise your horn makes, you think, is that legal? Then you quickly remember, the laws we have were written at a time where users-changing their horn’s noise (at least via software) was just not possible.
For those with a car built before Sept 2019, this feature won’t be available to you. While this feature certainly sounds like a fun party trick, I’m glad this speaker isn’t in my car as I don’t believe the regulation to make quiet electric vehicles noisy, is necessary.
The concern is that people may not hear an EV coming, so lets make it create noise so they do, it’ll be safer is the theory. The reality is that most modern cars have technology in place to apply the brakes in the event a object (like a human) is in its path. Every Tesla would certainly brake and likely well before any noise was heard from this speaker.
For those that have it, use it wisely, don’t be a tool and upload offensive audio files to the Boombox folder on your USB drive.
In case you were wondering, no, the pedestrian speaker can not be retrofitted, with Musk confirming that a wiring harness would need to changed (not easy), so it’s not simply a matter of adding the part and connecting it.
Scheduled Departure Improvements
If you’ve ever navigated your way to a Supercharger, you’ll know the battery management system preconditions the battery to optimise charging speed and the life of the battery.
With Scheduled Departures, its now possible to precondition your battery and set the climate control, even when your car is unplugged. To account for different utility rate plans, you can now set the time when your off-peak rates end to save on charging costs.
To access, you simply tap SCHEDULE from the climate control or charging panel when parked.
Supercharger Display Improvements
Supercharger pins on your touchscreen will now display the number of available stalls at charging sites. Quickly search for nearby amenities by tapping an amenity icon on the Supercharger popup display.
The Tesla “T” has been removed from the top status bar. Tap Controls > Software for the same information. This change is a little weird, given there’s actually plenty of space at the top, should Tesla have wanted to keep the T.
With future updates, we could see passenger-side profiles added, which would consume more of this space, so today’s update may be preparing for that, or simply chasing an effort to keep the UI clean.
3 new games
The Battle of Polytopia
The award winning turn based strategy game with low poly graphics. Lead your civilization to victory by expanding your empire and researching new technologies. To see how you compare with other Tesla owners, create a Tesla Arcade gamer name that will appear on the Battle of Polytopia Leaderboards.
Leap into a grand adventure of dragons, magic and cats in purr-suit of the evil Drakoth and your catnapped sister. Explore Felingard’s huge overworld map, risk life and limb delving into dungeons for epic loot, and lend a paw to a furry cast of characters in a flurry of side quests. Game controller required.
A classic game of Solitaire, also known as Klondike. Move cards by dragging them to their destination. You can play an easier Draw 1 game, or try your luck with Draw 3 and Vegas play modes. Personalize your game by customizing the backdrop and card backs.
Tesla Canuck has a great first impressions video which is available below. During the video he takes us through the a hands-on drive, in a very snowy Canada.
As for whether the holiday update lives up to the hype generated by Musk’s tweets, Elon does a pretty good job of evaluating that.
We are currently still waiting for Tesla’s over-the-air, Holiday Update to reach Australia.