Tesla's Integration of WeChat Applets Might Hint at a Larger App Store Development [Video]

By Kevin Armstrong
Tesla introduced 'apps' with their WeChat integration in China
Tesla introduced 'apps' with their WeChat integration in China
Not a Tesla App

Earlier this year Tesla integrated WeChat applets, or mini-programs, as part of their holiday update in China. This move has sparked curiosity and speculation about whether these applets are a sneak peek into Tesla's long-rumored app store. To understand the significance of this development, let's first explore what WeChat and its applets are and how they function.

What is WeChat and Applets?

WeChat is a popular messaging, social media, and mobile payment app developed by Tencent, a Chinese technology company. It offers various features, such as messaging, voice and video calls, social media sharing, mobile payments, official accounts for brands and public figures, and location-based services. Since its launch in 2011, WeChat has become an essential app for millions of users, particularly in China, where it has integrated into various aspects of daily life.

WeChat applets, also known as WeChat mini-programs, are lightweight applications that run within the WeChat platform. These applets offer various functionalities and services, similar to standalone apps, but without users needing to download or install them separately. They are designed to load quickly and integrate seamlessly with the platform, providing a smooth user experience.

Tesla's WeChat Applets in Action

Below you can view Tesla's extensive applets available through WeChat that offer video streaming, audio books, flight tracking and more. Huge thanks to one of our readers who recorded this video for us.

Tesla New Year Update

In the context of Tesla's New Year update for the Chinese market, these WeChat applets have been integrated into the Tesla OS, offering extensive features that behave like apps. The applets function like websites, but their app-like behavior comes from their seamless integration with the vehicle. For example, when users tap an audiobook within an applet, it will play the audio through the car's music player, showcasing the applets' app-like functionality.

Tesla's move towards applets is likely inspired by Progressive Web Apps (PWAs), a standard for developing websites that can be installed, made available offline, and have app icons and assets saved instead of being loaded each time. This approach could be a strategic move for Tesla as they plan to develop their app store.

Easier Developer Access

By leveraging existing PWAs like Twitter, Tesla could quickly offer a range of popular apps upon launch, making it easy for developers to add their apps to Tesla's platform. As PWAs gain popularity, the Tesla app store will continue to grow, offering more variety to Tesla users.

As we reported more than a year ago, Tesla is actively developing an app store for its vehicles, rumored to be released this year. Concept designer DeleetDesigns even offered a vision of what a Tesla app store could look like.

A Tesla app store is an exciting prospect, but it may differ from traditional app stores like Apple's or Google's. Tesla is likely to focus on apps well-suited for use in a car rather than replicating the smartphone experience.

Do Tesla Have the Computing Power?

For the Tesla app store to succeed, it must leverage the benefits of the car's larger screen and integration with the vehicle. Tesla will likely build developer tools to enable the creation of apps that integrate into their OS, such as SiriusXM, YouTube Music, and video streaming apps like YouTube TV and Amazon Prime Video.

Moreover, the Tesla app store could enable developers to port additional games to Tesla vehicles, offering owners a wider range of gaming options.

An app store would be a significant win for Tesla, allowing them to offload the development of entertainment apps to other companies while freeing up engineers' time and providing owners with the desired apps.

However, running apps like those on smartphones and tablets would require a more capable processor than most Teslas. Only MCU 3-equipped vehicles would likely support such an app store, which only became available in late 2021. Tesla's WeChat applets require the Ryzen processor in MCU 3, and if Tesla does offer more web-based apps, the requirement may remain.

Tesla's integration of WeChat Applets in China may indicate the company's progress towards an app store. Although we should adjust our expectations for what a Tesla app store will entail, it's an exciting development that could greatly enhance the Tesla experience.

Tesla Begins Testing FSD in China

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Tesla was recently granted permission to test FSD on Chinese streets – specifically in Shanghai. Just recently, Elon Musk visited China and discussed the potential for FSD to come to China.

Gearing Up for FSD China

This is just the first step for Tesla to begin its customer deployments of FSD – Tesla conducts similar ADAS testing in North America, where special testing vehicles and testing employees run the latest FSD (Supervised) versions against a gamut of real-world, real-life tests.

Tesla has recently been working on translating FSD release notes into multiple languages, alongside building a data center in Shanghai and establishing an FSD Operations and Labelling team at the same center. These are the first, key steps to bringing FSD to a new market that has unique and different traffic rules when compared North America.

China doesn’t have the regulatory hurdles or challenges that Tesla faces in Europe to bring FSD and has been working with Chinese corporations as well as the government, which has now provided its official approval for FSD testing in-country.

We might even see FSD deployed to early testing customers in China by the end of 2025.

ADAS Competitors

There are quite a few competitors in the Chinese market already- with challengers like Xpeng and Xiaomi working on building their own homegrown systems, mostly driven by a mixture of cameras, radars, ultrasonic sensors, and LIDAR. However, many of these systems face similar challenges to other non-Chinese competitors and don’t have the mileage under their belts to tackle Tesla’s dominating lead in data and data processing.

European Union

Tesla is poising itself for an FSD rollout internationally, with increased testing also taking place in the UK, France, and Spain – some of the key locations with unique infrastructure in the European Union. However, some EU-specific regulations restrict how FSD can perform – each and every action must be manually approved by the driver. Until that regulation is changed to adapt to systems like FSD, it won’t be making its way there just yet.

Tesla Cybertruck to Receive Charging Improvements in Upcoming Update

By Karan Singh
Not a Tesla App

Former Tesla VP of Powertrain and Energy Drew Baglino previously mentioned that Cybertruck would be receiving charging improvements soon.

Wes Morrill, Tesla’s Cybertruck lead engineer, recently reposted Baglino’s comments on the charge speed update on June 16th and mentioned that it would be coming soon via OTA.

Charging Improvements

The 4680 cell has seen some difficulties in its charge curve, similar to Tesla’s other vehicles that have been deployed with the 4680. Tesla has alluded to difficulties in the manufacturing curve previously, and also with engineering improvements to the new cell standard, and eventually stopped manufacturing the Model Y with the 4680 cells.

However, this is the first time that Tesla has begun to deploy major improvements to the 4680 cell. It appears the improvements will allow up to 154 miles to be recovered in 15 minutes, which is approximately a 30% improvement to current charge rates.

We’re hoping that these improvements to the 4680 will also translate to older Model Y vehicles that have 4680 cells, which will be key to the owners of these vehicles. 4680 production is currently mainly focused on Powerwall, Megapack, and Cybertruck – with Semi not using 4680 yet.

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