Here comes Tesla with the gift you never knew you wanted. It gave its cars the ability to fart and bleat like goats last Christmas. Tesla seemed to be feeling extra generous this year, and decided that everyone deserved a feature that turn their cars into light show machines.
Elon Musk and Tesla have made it a yearly ritual to release feature-rich over-the-air software updates with exciting and functional new features for their vehicles towards the end of the year.
A news outlet released the first details about the company’s next installment, v11.0, on Tuesday. Then, on Friday, the EV maker disclosed more details, including features that go far beyond utilitarian changes such as a new, Hyundai-like automatic blind-spot camera display and enhanced navigation.
Yes, v11.0 includes new games for Tesla Arcade, including Sonic the Hedgehog, Sudoku, and The Battle of Polytopia, despite the legal wrangling over Passenger Play. But there’s also a new function that anyone can use, even if they don’t own a Tesla.
The latter is an enhancement to Tesla Light Show, a feature that allows Tesla audio systems to play Christmas favorites like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (The Nutcracker Suite) while simultaneously displaying a synchronized light show.
Tesla has now included support for XLights, an open-source, free software that allows users to design their own vehicle light show on a computer. A USB drive can then be used to upload the file to compatible Tesla automobiles.
The catch is that you can’t use XLights to create light shows for non-Tesla cars, but you can create your own sound-and-light presentations for friends’ or clients’ vehicles.
NOTE: It’s worth noting that it’s unusual for an automaker to openly encourage people to transfer a customized version of any software to their automobiles. Even within the presumably limited constraints of XLights, most automobile companies’ cybersecurity teams would be wary of exposing any portion of their vehicle’s electronic design to outside programmers. It’s tempting to see this as a sign of Tesla’s faith in its software’s hack-resistance, but even if you don’t, it’s still further proof that Tesla marches to its own drummer.
Other v11.0 features mentioned in Tesla’s official blog post include an enhanced user interface for Intel Atom-powered vehicles.
These improvements include a Saab-like Dark Mode, a user-definable app launcher, and a rationalized control panel, which were inspired by the latest mid-cycle refresh modifications to the Model S hatchback and Model X SUV.
Music fans will also welcome a number of minor tweaks, such as the addition of an Auto adaptive option with manual subwoofer control to the five levels of Immersive Audio.
Lastly, for individuals who live in colder climates, new options such as automatic front seat heaters that activate based on cabin conditions and HVAC settings are available.
This looks to work in the same way as Stellantis’ cabin preconditioning system, which is initiated by remote start. The function is now available via the Tesla App as well as the vehicle’s center touchscreens, even at a reduced charge level, according to the company.
Check out Tesla’s new official blog post for all of the v11.0 specifics, including new features not covered here.