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Tesla Redesigns Its User Interface – Do You Love It Or Hate It?

On December 25, 2022, Tesla owners got notification of a new software update and most of us downloaded it like we always do. The download caused the biggest reorganization of the user interface (UI) that I have seen in the over two years I have owned my Model 3. I generally like the new UI, but my editor Zach Shahan and many others dislike it. This article includes a few tips on how to use it, which may help some people to like it more.

Tesla user interface main screen. March 1, 2020. Photo by Fritz Hasler.

Good Change: The temperature controls as shown at LO and 73°F in Figure 1, are now separated for the driver and right seat passengers, allowing each more intuitive control over their separate temperatures.

Bad Change: A number of often used functions, like seat heating controls, and even critical functions, like windscreen defogging controls, are no longer on the main screen. They are only available on second-level menus. You only see them on the screen that comes up (Figure 2) when you touch one of the temperature controls at the bottom left and right as seen in Figures 1–3. In Figure 2, the driver’s seat heater is set at level 3 and the front and rear defogging controls are the greyed out ikons for the front and rear windscreens just left of the blue AC switch. They turn color when you activate them.

Good Change: If you slide your finger horizontally on the driver’s temperature number, a sub-screen comes up (Figure 3) that helps you set the temperature easily and accurately. Note: If you hold the temperature number down for several seconds it will turn off the fan.

Figure 2: Seat heater and defrost controls. Photo by Fritz Hasler

tesla model 3 screencap - decorative changes

Figure 3: Driver temperature control. Photo by Fritz Hasler

What about the infotainment controls? On the bottom center of Figures 1–3, if you push on the three small white dots, you get the sub-screen with 14 options as shown in Figure 4.

Figure 4: Multifunction sub-screen. Photo by Fritz Hasler

I’m a news junky, so pressing on the TuneIn button brings up the sub-sub-screen shown in Figure 5. I often listen to CNN or MSNBC streaming or PBS station KUER 90.1 in SLC on radio. This screen allows me to choose between the three options as I try to avoid the objectionable ads.

tesla model 3 screencap radio functions

Figure 5: TuneIn sub-sub-screen. Photo by Fritz Hasler

If I want streaming music instead, I push on the orange button bottom center (Figure 5), which brings up the sub-sub-screen shown in Figure 6. From this screen, I pick one of my favorite music genres. Streaming music requires good cellphone reception, so if I am driving north of Casper, Wyoming, and cell phone reception isn’t good, I go to my iPhone for one of my favorite playlists by pushing on the Bluetooth button on the sub-screen shown in Figure 4. You can see the Bluetooth controls for Diane Warwick’s “That’s What Friends are For” at the top of Figure 5.

Figure 6: Streaming music. Sub-sub screen. Photo by Fritz Hasler

I seldom play computer games, but if I have kids in the car, I have to show the car racing game that uses the steering wheel and brakes (when parked) to control a racing car. To access, go to Arcade on the sub-screen in Figure 4, then choose the dune buggy race shown in Figure 7.

tesla model 3 screencap of racing game

Figure 7: Dune buggy race game. Oops, I’m actually driving my white Model 3. Controlled by the steering wheel and brake. Photo by Fritz Hasler

I have never played/sung karaoke in public, but I love to sing and have never been able to memorize the lyrics of very many songs. Therefore, if I am killing time at a Supercharger, I choose Caraoke on the sub-screen shown in Figure 4 and pick one of my favorite songs (see Figure 8) and sing along to the amazing high-quality sound.

tesla model 3 screencap

Figure 8: Karaoke Sweet Caroline singalong. Photo by Fritz Hasler

Of course, for real entertainment, Tesla allows streaming of movies on Netflix, Hulu, Disney+, etc. (See Figure 9.) Those can be brought up by pushing on the Theater button shown on Figure 4.

Figure 9: Theater streaming options. Photo by Fritz Hasler

Picking the Netflix option, you get Netflix’s standard movie menu, as shown in Figure 10. I have found that in typical metro areas & towns that movie streaming using cellphone data works fine.

Figure 10: Netflix streaming options. Photo by Fritz Hasler

Tesla Control Options

Going back to a few of the more important driver control options, pushing on the single white dot to the left of the three white dots in the bottom center of Figure 8 brings up the rear camera view. You can also bring up the side camera views as shown in Figure 11 if you swipe up from the bottom of the screen. If the image is fogged, wipe off the camera with your finger just above your license plate.

Figure 11: Rear and side camera views in my garage. Photo by Fritz Hasler

If you are wondering where Tesla has hidden the tire pressures, push the car ikon on the bottom left of the main screen shown in Figure 1 and Figure 8. Then push the Service button, which brings up the tire pressures on sub sub-screen shown in Figure 12. This works only when driving.

tesla model 3 screencap

Figure 12: Tire pressures. Readouts available when driving. Photo by Fritz Hasler

Another inscrutable piece of important information is your odometer reading, which is cleverly hidden under the software button of the main Car Control Menu as shown in Figure 13.

tesla model 3 screencap

Figure 13: Odometer reading. Cleverly hidden under software. Photo by Fritz Hasler

Whether you are doing a software tutorial for Adobe Photoshop or the Tesla UI, one couldn’t hope to be comprehensive about the almost infinite number of options in a short article like this. One example of other Tesla tips can be found on YouTube:

My philosophy is to read or watch a few tutorials like this, which will tell you some useful information that you would never have guessed. However, I can never remember all the tips. It’s better then to Google your question for that bit of information you really want and will most likely remember.

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Arthur Frederick (Fritz) Hasler, PhD, former leader of NASA Goddard Space Flight Center Scientific Visualization & Analysis Laboratory (creator of this iconic image), and avid CleanTechnica reader. Also: Research Meteorologist (Emeritus) at NASA GSFC, Adjunct Professor at Viterbo University On-Line Studies, PSIA L2 Certified Alpine Ski Instructor at Brighton Utah Ski School.


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