Tesla is improving its phone key with ultra-wideband support
In Tesla update 2024.2.3, Tesla is rolling out support for ultra-wideband, a wireless protocol that will drastically improve how Tesla phone keys work.
Ultra-wideband (UWB) requires hardware support on the user's phone and the vehicle, so only some of the most recent models will be supported.
What is Ultra-Wide
Ultra-wideband is similar to Bluetooth in that it uses short-range radio waves to enable devices to communicate, although it’s a separate protocol all together. It uses less energy than Bluetooth while providing high-precision location tracking beyond what can be achieved with Bluetooth. The technology is often used to accurately locate devices and determine the precise distance between multiple UWB devices.
Improved Phone Keys
Tesla phone keys are fantastic and give you a way to lock and unlock your vehicle without having to carry a key. They also let you share temporary or permanent keys with others without ever having to hand something over physically. It's one of the ways Tesla can now offer self-serve demo drives without any staff on hand.
While phone keys are great and work reliably most of the time, occasionally the car doesn't recognize that the phone is nearby, requiring you to take out your phone and unlock it or even open the Tesla app before it recognizes that the phone is nearby.
The addition of support for ultra-wideband should solve these issues almost completely by precisely knowing where the phone is in relation to the vehicle. UWB support is also expected to improve other features that rely on knowing your phone’s location, such as selecting the correct driver profile depending on which phone key is closest to the driver’s side.
Enabling UWB Phone Key
The new phone key won’t work out of the box. To use the improved UWB phone key, you’ll need to set it up in the Tesla app. The app will prompt you to “Upgrade Your Phone Key,” and you’ll then need to grant the app access to UWB, which the iPhones call Nearby Interactions. You can remove or check on whether the app has access at any time by navigating to iPhone Settings > Privacy & Security > Nearby Interactions.
Tesla states that its new feature "Ultra-Wideband Phone Key" will improve your phone key due to greater accuracy and better responsibleness.
The release notes read:
"Ultrawide band (UWB) technology is now available for Phone Key. So your vehicle and Phone Key can communicate with greater accuracy to more responsively lock, unlock, and open Automatic Doors.”
“In the Tesla app, choose Phone Key > Upgrade and follow the instructions. After setup, keep your iPhone Settings for Nearby Interactions on for Tesla. Requires iPhone 11+ and Tesla app 4.29.5+."
Since ultra-wideband requires specific hardware, it can’t be added in a software update unless the hardware is already in the vehicle. Only some of the latest Tesla vehicles appear to support the new wireless protocol.
We have confirmed that the new Model 3 is supported, as well as the 2023 Model X. All refreshed Model S and Model X vehicles include the new UWB frequencies in the certificate of conformity and are likely to receive this feature, but it doesn’t appear to be going out to all new S/X models yet. The Cybertruck is expected to be supported as well.
The first-gen Model 3 and current Model Y unfortunately do not have UWB support.
In addition to the vehicle having support for UWB, the phone must also support it. All models since the iPhone 11 have included support for ultra-wideband. This spans across all models and sizes.
While some Android phones also include UWB hardware, Tesla is launching support for the iPhone first, but we can expect supported Android phones running Android 13 or later to be added at some point in the future as well.
On the Android side, the Pixel 6 and above have support for UWB on the Pro models, while the Galaxy S series phones support the protocol since the S21, but only on the Plus and Ultra models. The Galaxy Z Fold 2 and above also include support as well as other flagship Android phones.
Tesla App Support
Tesla started adding support for ultra-wideband back in July 2023 when Tesla updated their app to v4.23.5 and included references to ultra-wideband. Tesla says that you’ll require the latest Tesla app, v4.29.5 or higher to use the new feature.
Ultra wide-band will bring greater accuracy and reliability to Tesla's phone keys. The phone key is already great and the only thing holding it back is its ability to work reliably 100% of the time, but it looks like that is about to be fixed if you own a new Tesla model.
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Tesla may soon support a monthly FSD subscription and the Premium Connectivity annual plan for Canadian customers. The possible move was discussed on X as Tesla’s Vice President of Public Policy and Business Development, Rohan Patel, responded to inquiries.
FSD Beta Subscription in Canada
The potential introduction of the FSD beta subscription in Canada represents a notable evolution in Tesla’s FSD pricing. The monthly subscription is available in the U.S. for $200 USD per month, this service allows Tesla owners to access the company’s suite of Advanced Driver Assistance Systems (ADAS). Considering currency exchange rates, this could translate to around $270 CAD monthly for Canadian consumers. This pricing strategy aims to make Tesla’s ADAS features more accessible, offering flexibility to subscribe or unsubscribe based on individual needs and circumstances, such as seasonal driving preferences. Currently, Canadian customers only have the option to buy FSD in full at $16,000 CAD.
While a subscription service for FSD Beta may allow more drivers to try out the technology, it will also assist Tesla in gathering more information and improving the system faster. The more miles clocked by FSD, the more the system learns.
Miles driven on FSD
Premium Connectivity Annual Plan
Alongside the FSD beta, Tesla is exploring the possibility of offering an annual subscription model for its Premium Connectivity service in Canada. Tesla started offering an annual subscription for Premium Connectivity in the US back in 2022 at $99.99, representing a 20% savings. Premium connectivity offers drivers additional features such as Live Traffic Visualization, Satellite-View Maps, and streaming services such as Netflix, Spotify and YouTube. The anticipated price for Canadian subscribers is set to be around $139.99 annually, offering a savings opportunity compared to the current monthly subscription rate of $13.99 CAD.
Patel's engagement on X highlights Tesla's proactive approach to addressing potential legal and regulatory barriers that might impede the introduction of these services in Canada. He committed to investigating these issues, underscoring Tesla's dedication to its Canadian customer base.
Strategic Investments and Enthusiastic Community
Tesla's plans for Canada go beyond just offering new subscription services. The company has made significant investments in manufacturing, engineering, and supply chain operations in the country.
Tesla's FSD Beta version 12.2.1, update 2023.44.30.20, recently started going out to some owners, which resulted in more videos posted on X. There are several examples of amazing technology at work, but also evidence that more work is needed.
Ashok Elluswamy, Tesla's Director of Autopilot Software, recently highlighted the sophistication of FSD Beta v12 on X, emphasizing how the system's end-to-end approach is tackling complex driving scenarios with remarkable ease. His response came to a video of FSD maneuvering around a large puddle.
This is the sort of driving that's really hard to code explicitly, but our end-to-end approach brings in almost effortlessly. https://t.co/gw4vipu9iY
One of the standout features of FSD Beta v12 is its ability to execute U-turns seamlessly when required by the route. This is where real-world examples show the good and the bad of this highly advanced maneuver come into play. X user AI DRIVR, an account posting several high-quality videos of V12.2.1 in action, demonstrates a flawless U-turn.
Unfortunately, not all U-turns posted on X are as pretty; Randolph Kim has been experimenting with several scenarios. While later videos showed better behavior with u-turns and roundabouts, the earlier attempts had to be disengaged.
FSD Beta v12.2.1 attempts U-turns at signalized intersections. So, I wanted to see how far I could push it. Looking for U-turns in LA, maps showed a U-turn at a left turn pocket on a smaller 4-lane mixed-use road. Car overshot the U-turn and had to disengage due to oncoming car. pic.twitter.com/hCfQYFh4ue
During our first glimpse of FSD v12 during Musk’s livestream, we noticed a new behavior when the vehicle reached its destination. Instead of just stopping, the vehicle now pulled over to the side of the road. However, it looks like the newest release goes one step further.
In a video by ArthurFromX, the vehicle is navigating to a parking lot. Not only does the vehicle successfully navigate to the parking lot, but it hunts around for a spot and then successfully parks without any additional instructions.
Tesla appears to have reintroduced the Snapshot button in this update, at least to some owners. The snapshot button allows drivers to send additional information to Tesla regarding Autopilot's performance. This feature and the existing voice command feedback option provide Tesla with invaluable data to improve the FSD system further.
Automatic Speed Offset
Another noteworthy addition is the Automatic Set Speed Offset feature, which grants the vehicle autonomy to adjust its speed based on factors such as road type, traffic flow, and environmental conditions. The video below shows this feature in action. The feature is turned off by default and it currently only applies to street-level roads, but it’s a shift toward more human-like behavior for FSD Beta.
Recently, Tesla revised the Autopilot activation method to avoid confusion and offered drivers two choices — a single pull of the stalk to enable FSD Beta or the traditional two taps. However, with FSD Beta v12, drivers are now required to use the single pull method to activate Autopilot.
Traffic-Aware Cruise Control (TACC) has traditionally been one pull of the stalk and Autopilot two pulls, but with the new single-pull method to activate Autopilot, TACC becomes unavailable. This hasn’t been a big deal until the release of FSD v12. With v12 Tesla is now requiring FSD Beta to use the single tap activation method.
This means that if a driver chooses to use FSD Beta, then TACC is no longer accessible. The only way to enable it is to go into Controls > Autopilot and turn off FSD Beta and instead choose Autosteer (or TACC). However, if you wish to enable FSD Beta again later, then it requires the vehicle to be in Park. Switching between Autosteer and FSD Beta isn’t practical for drivers. For those who rely on TACC, this issue could be a significant disadvantage in this release.
Several drivers have praised FSD Beta v12’s ability to navigate complex situations, better decision-making, and smoother behavior. However, as with any cutting-edge technology, there have been instances where the system's responses have room for improvement, highlighting the importance of its continued development.
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