A Look at Tesla's Holiday Updates

By Kevin Armstrong
The Model 3 UI in 2018
The Model 3 UI in 2018
Cars.com

Tesla's Holiday Update has made the most wonderful time of year the hap-happiest season of all. Adding to the parties for hosting, marshmallows for toasting and caroling out in the snow have been significant advancements to the user interface, the apps and the farts. So, in the spirit of reflection, let's look back at the last five years of updates courtesy of Santa Musk and the Tesla Elves.

2018

The 2018 update was significant because it was the first to go to the Model 3. Yes, it's hard to believe the Model 3 was celebrating its first Christmas five years ago. This update brought the browser, calendar and energy app to the 3, plus much more to the rest of the lineup.

Navigate on Autopilot made its first appearance in Beta. It suggests lane changes and monitors surrounding traffic to make adjustments to ensure you don't get stuck behind slower traffic. Autosteer and Auto Lane Change were also combined in a beta feature. If you were around when these features were first introduced, you know exactly how far they've come. Plus, Blindspot Warning was introduced. You can see how these are now utilized with today's vehicles, combining the technology as the company works towards Full Self Driving.

The Model 3 wipers control early on
The Model 3 wipers control early on
CNET cars

Another significant advancement in how Tesla operates came with increased regenerative braking. Tesla continues to lead the EV market in regenerative braking, and this update allowed more kinetic energy to return power to the battery.

2019

There was more fun in 2019, with the addition of the Tesla Theater, a new arcade game (Cuphead) and more media options. But, first, carrying over from 2018, yet another piece in the Autopilot collection was unveiled with Smart Summon, allowing users to have their Tesla come to them.

The Model 3 UI has seen many changes over the last five years
The Model 3 UI has seen many changes over the last five years
BusinessInsider

The Theater brought Netflix into Tesla, of course, when in park, so those waiting for their spouse to finish Christmas shopping could sit back and binge-watch their favorite shows. Nothing to watch? Tesla has you covered with Caraoke. This road trip favorite was also launched in 2019 alongside the inclusion of Spotify in the US market.

2020

In 2020, Tesla stuffed three new games down the chimney and into cars worldwide. The games were Cat Quest, the Battle of Polytopia and Solitaire. Is anyone else happy Steam was added in 2022?

While the entertainment addition wasn't at the same level as the previous year, made several UI improvements with driver visualization improvements, scheduled departure upgrades, Boombox and improvements to Emissions Testing Mode and Text messaging.

2021

2021 was a magical year allowing users access to the side camera to act as a blind spot camera. This welcome improvement caught Tesla up to the legacy automakers in that regard. From a usability standpoint, the company made the app launcher customizable and simplified controls so drivers can focus on navigation and primary controls, although there were some UI changes that needed to be gradually rolled back or reworked.

Three more video games were added, Sonic the Hedgehog, The Battle for Polytopia (Multiplayer) and Sudoku. Did I mention I'm happy Steam was introduced in 2022?

Since the update came out in December, its fitting cold weather improvements and automated seat heaters were included. Tesla also introduced the ability for seat heaters to be automated based on the desired cabin temperature. The Car Wash Mode was added, and perhaps one of the most used features, Sentry Mode Live Camera Access.

2022

That brings us to 2022. The year Steam was put inside the newer Model S and Model X cars, giving users the ability to access more than 50,000 high-end, high-resolution games. Apple Music, MyQ garage door opener, and Zoom were also wrapped up and put under the tree.

Tesla's incredibly generous gifting continues to have hearts glowing over the holidays. Just 12 months until the next big update. Let us know what's on your wishlist and be sure to stay on the nice list!

A Look Back at the Model 3's Interface

Take a look at the Model 3's interface and its early reviews back in 2018.

How Tesla's FSD Beta Has Expanded Over Time

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla reveals how many miles have been driven on FSD Beta as of January 2023
Tesla reveals how many miles have been driven on FSD Beta as of January 2023
Tesla

Tesla's Full Self Driving (FSD) technology took a giant leap forward in distributing FSD Beta to 400,000 customers in North America. It is a significant milestone for the development of autonomous driving and highlights Tesla's commitment to bringing this cutting-edge technology to the masses. A new version, v11.3 could roll out any day.

Number of Testers Over Time

Tesla made FSD Beta public a little more than two years ago, around October 2020. It was initially only made available to less than a handful of testers, but that pool grew to about 1,000 users later that year.

Since then Tesla has gradually increased the number of testers. The ramp from the initial 1,000 testers took some time, but by October 2021 Tesla had opened it up further through its Safety Score program. By January 2022, it was available to about 60,000 owners.

In March of 2022, Tesla expanded FSD Beta to Canada, gradually adding additional testers, and eventually increasing the number of testers across the U.S. and Canada to 160,000 in September.

Tesla announced this December that the number of testers had grown to 285,000 and recently said this January that it's now accessible to 400,000 Tesla owners.

FSD Beta Expansion and Milestones

Date Milestone
October, 2020 Opened to select testers
Late 2020 ~ 1,000 added
October 2021 Start of expansion through Safety Score
January 2022 Available to 60,000 testers
March 2022 Expansion to Canada
July 2022 Available to 160,000 testers
December 2022 Available to 285,000 testers
January 2023 Access given to 400,000 owners

Faster Feedback

The deployment of FSD Beta to such a large number of customers will provide an unprecedented level of testing and feedback, allowing Tesla to refine the technology and bring it to an even higher level of reliability and safety. Furthermore, with over 90 million miles driven on FSD outside of highways, the published data shows a clear improvement in safety statistics, demonstrating the potential for autonomous driving to revolutionize the way we travel.

This increased testing level will help improve the technology even further, as the system can learn from a broader range of driving scenarios and road conditions.

FSD Will Make the Roads Safer

The safety benefits of Full Self Driving technology will be a major selling point for Tesla and one of the primary reasons for its rapid growth. Using cameras and other advanced technologies, FSD can monitor the road and make real-time adjustments to ensure the vehicle operates safely and efficiently. As a result, this technology reduces the likelihood of accidents and provides passengers with a safer, more comfortable driving experience.

Overall, making FSD Beta available to 400,000 customers represents a major step forward for Tesla and the entire autonomous driving industry. It's now available to all customers who have purchased or subscribed to FSD in the U.S. and Canada. The next big expansion is expected to be in Europe sometime this year.

With its focus on safety and reliability, Tesla is leading the way toward a future where driving is fully autonomous, and accidents are a thing of the past. As technology continues to evolve, we can expect to see even more impressive advances in the coming years, bringing us closer to a world where autonomous vehicles are a common sight on our roads.

Tesla Accessory, Ctrl-Bar Adds Physical Buttons to the Model Y and Model 3

By Kevin Armstrong
The Ctrl-Bar adds physical buttons to the Model 3/Y
The Ctrl-Bar adds physical buttons to the Model 3/Y
Ctrl-Bar

Tesla's minimalistic interior design is both loved and hated. Much loathing is due to the lack of physical buttons drivers are so used to having at their fingertips to control heat, music and everything else in the cabin. The sleek look is attractive, but for some it can fall short in easy accessibility while driving.

That's where a new product comes into play: Ctrl-Bar. Created by Øyvind Husby of Oslo, Norway, Ctrl-Bar has nearly 300 backers on the crowdfunding website Indiegogo and has beat its target funding goal by more than 280 percent. The objective is to provide a tactile, programmable solution to Tesla's minimalistic interior design.

How It Works

Ctrl-Bar is a device that attaches securely to the bottom of the Model 3 and Model Y screen and offers a quick-access, tactile response that physical buttons can only achieve. The premium black glass finish blends seamlessly with the screen bezel, providing a smooth look. It connects to a smartphone using Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE) and gets power from a hidden USB cable connected to the rear center console USB port. The app runs in the background, capturing only the data needed to run the services and prioritizing privacy. In addition, the Ctrl-Bar screen shows real-time changes, so there is no latency when changing temperatures or other functions. After less than a second, the device will send the command to your vehicle.

Ctrl-Bar Video

The Scrolls, Buttons and Extras

The Ctrl-Bar has two scroll wheels with tactile indents to control the cabin temperature, one for the driver and the passenger. In addition, four push buttons are in the middle of the wheels to provide easy access to programmable shortcuts, such as seat heaters, defrost mode, dog mode, and more. All changes made on the Ctrl-Bar are reflected on the center screen, offering a unified experience.

In addition to controlling essential functions, Ctrl-Bar also provides ambient LED lighting. The device has a series of powerful LEDs that illuminate the center console and front footwells. Users can scroll through assorted color and brightness options to find the perfect lighting for their drive. For an additional subscription, Ctrl-Bar offers speed trap warnings. The device checks for nearby fixed speed traps and visually alerts the driver when they are approaching. If the driver exceeds the speed limit, Ctrl-Bar will give an audible warning reminding them to slow down.

The Ctrl-Bar adds physical buttons to the Model 3/Y
The Ctrl-Bar adds physical buttons to the Model 3/Y
Ctrl-Bar

Creative Company with a Track Record

Greenmission, the company behind Ctrl-Bar, has successfully launched a premium wireless charger for the Tesla Model S/X. With trusted manufacturers and software developers on board, the main obstacles to getting Ctrl-Bar into the hands of Tesla owners are developing the phone app, establishing a reliable connection, avoiding supplier issues and delays, and managing costs. Despite these challenges, Greenmission is confident they can bring Ctrl-Bar to market and provide a much-needed solution to the lack of physical buttons in Tesla vehicles.

Ctrl-Bar is an interesting device that adds some physical buttons for owners who want or need them. It matches well with the interior of the vehicle and still provides a sleek look. However, it will require your phone to have a cellular connection to successfully send commands to the vehicle, since it relies on Tesla's APIs.

Tesla drivers are always looking for ways to improve their experience, and new features will be made available through Over-The-Air updates. Furthermore, users' feedback and suggestions will be considered and worked on in future updates.

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Although we share official Tesla release notes, we are not affiliated with Tesla Motors. We are Tesla fans and supporters.

Tesla News

Upcoming Release

View the release notes for the upcoming version 2023.2.10.

Confirmed by Elon

Take a look at features that Elon Musk has said will be coming soon.

Subscribe

Subscribe to our weekly newsletter.