Tesla Software Version 9.0: “Most Substantial Update Yet”

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Tesla has officially taken the wraps off of highly anticipated version 9.0 of its firmware. A blast of updates have been sent to drivers via email, a Tesla blog post, an official support post, and even a Twitter thread to introduce the update.

Tesla confirmed that the update will go out to all US and Canadian Tesla owners today. Though, as with any software update, that’s dependent on numerous factors outside of Tesla’s control, including the owner actually scheduling the update and availability of WiFi to download the update.

Assuming the initial deployment in North America is successful, the rest of the world should expect the update to come through in the next couple of weeks. As Tesla has already deployed the update to its army of early testers, the update should be rather stable, but as with anything Tesla, anything is possible. Tesla does have some incremental work to do before it can roll the update out to the rest of the world, including regionalization work like languages, right-hand drive updates, etc.

The new features Tesla is spotlighting in firmware version 9.0 include:

  • Enhanced Navigation
  • Application Launcher & Applications
  • Media Player
  • Controls and Settings
  • Climate Controls
  • Obstacle-Aware Acceleration
  • Autopilot Controls
  • Blindspot Monitoring
  • Dashcam
  • Tesla App


Tesla CEO Elon Musk has been teasing many of these features on Twitter for months, including the Dashcam app that will leverage the built-in camera at the front of the vehicle to record real-time video of the car while in motion, mimicking the functionality of an aftermarket dashcam if installed facing forward near the interior rear-view mirror.

The new Dashcam functionality will be available to all Model S, X, and 3 vehicles built with Hardware 2.5, which was released in August 2017. To use the Dashcam feature, a flash drive with at least 1.8 GB of free space must be inserted in one of the front-row USB drives, which are the only ones with data capabilities. Tapping the Dashcam icon saves a 10-minute video clip from the front camera. Pressing and holding the icon will pause the recording.

To use the feature, the drive must be configured rather specifically, according to Tesla’s support article on the feature:

  • Configure your USB flash drive by formatting in the ‘FAT32’ (Windows) / ‘MS-DOS (FAT)’ (Mac) file architecture and add a base-level folder in the flash drive called ‘TeslaCam’.
  • Insert configured USB flash drive into either of the USB ports in the front row.
  • When properly configured, the Dashcam icon will be displayed in the status bar with a red dot indicating that it is recording.
  • Note, the USB must be plugged in while driving to record.

New In-Car Apps

The update brings a whole new suite of in-car applications that are all tucked into the new launcher. The launcher is a new icon on the lower left of the display (Model 3). Clicking on the launcher icon pulls up a new floating bubble with the new Calendar, Energy, Web Browser, Rear-View Camera, Phone, and Charging apps.

It is worth noting that the Web Browser app represents the first software differentiator for Tesla’s new premium connectivity package. The premium connectivity package is include for free for all vehicles purchased prior to June 30, 2018, for the life of the car. Model S and X vehicles purchased on July 1, 2018 or later include the package for free for the first year as do Model 3 vehicles with the premium interior package.

The trial period for vehicles purchased without the premium interior package will be announced later this year. The premium connectivity package will available for purchase in the car from the touchscreen and is expected to cost around $100 per year after the initial trial period.

The calendar app hints at a future feature that will enable drivers to automatically navigate to meetings scheduled at specific locations without having to enter anything into the car. It is intended to operate with Tesla’s Full Self Driving feature, which has yet to be pushed out to any cars in production.

Additional Features

The update also includes a number of features that will be enthusiastically welcomed by drivers, including a sexy full 360° camera view that will blend the camera angles from all of the onboard cameras into a single full-car view. The view is intended to give drivers a top-down view of the car, much like Infiniti’s vehicles have done for years and the top version of the new Nissan LEAF offers.

To ensure its smartphone apps are up to the task of keeping up with the new firmware update, Tesla pushed out a new version of its mobile apps on Android and iOS over the last few weeks. The update brings some of the key integrations required for the new in-car functionality, like an option for turning calendar sync on or off. A new climate control update, obstacle-aware acceleration, and enhanced navigation routing round out the list of features in the new update.

Navigate on Autopilot (or Not)

At the last minute, Tesla opted not to include what was perhaps the most sought after feature slated for version 9.0, updates to its Enhanced Autopilot (EAP) suite. The new update was expected to enable vehicles using Enhanced Autopilot to travel from onramp to offramp for freeway trips and even to start tracking along with routes enabled in the in-car navigation system.

According to Tesla, the update to EAP will take care of most driving on the freeway, “including suggesting lane changes, navigating highway interchanges and taking exits.” Tesla included some details about the solution in its blog post about the firmware update:

  • Once a destination is entered into the navigation, drivers can choose to enable “Navigate on Autopilot” for that trip, and the feature is then activated when Autosteer is engaged via the normal prompt on the cruise control stalk (Model S and Model X) or gear selector stalk (Model 3). When a lane change is suggested, drivers must confirm that they’re ready by tapping the turn signal (for Model S and Model X, the turn signal or cruise control stalk). Drivers can continue to use Autosteer and other Enhanced Autopilot features without Navigate on Autopilot anytime they choose to.

The update is still expected to be pushed out in a future update, but no timing has been shared for that. For now, Tesla is releasing the feature in Shadow Mode that allows Tesla to log data from the car and run it through its offline solution validation.

Easter Egg!

Version 9 was also supposed to include several Atari games embedded in the code. After a few nervous minutes of playing with the update, the word is officially out that the Atari games are indeed in the official release.

They can be found by holding down the Tesla T logo at the top of the screen, then pulling down the info tab to reveal the list of Easter eggs. A new Atari icon is now visible there, which opens up a new world of modernized classic video games for owners and passengers to enjoy while the vehicle is parked. Check out this fun video from the Tesla Model 3 Owners Club that shows off the new games and the interesting on-screen controller.

To get all the juicy details about the new update while you’re waiting for it to arrive, head on over to the official Tesla blog post and the official support post about the new update. Of course, let us know in the comments if you have received it and if it is as awesome as they are making it out to sound, and we will do the same.

Source: Tesla Blog and Tesla Support

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Kyle Field

I'm a tech geek passionately in search of actionable ways to reduce the negative impact my life has on the planet, save money and reduce stress. Live intentionally, make conscious decisions, love more, act responsibly, play. The more you know, the less you need. As an activist investor, Kyle owns long term holdings in Tesla, Lightning eMotors, Arcimoto, and SolarEdge.

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