Forget about Apple's iOS 8, here comes Tesla's OS 6 for the Model S!
Technology keeps progressing rapidly. If you had told someone just a few years ago that they would have pocket computers (which we call "phones" mostly because of a historical accident -- for most people, talking on the phone is the thing they do least often on their cellphones) that are always connected to the internet, that would have sounded pretty sci-fi. But nobody bats an eye now when these pocket computers wirelessly update their operating systems and reboot with some brand new interface features and functionality.
We're now entering the era of cars being able to do the same. The Tesla Model S is a pioneer when it comes to wireless connectivity and how much it basically acts like a giant computer on wheels. The large center console touchscreen (like a big iPad) was the talk of the town when it was first unveiled a few years ago, and since then Tesla has continuously been updating the EV's software to make it do more things, better.
Here's a video that highlights some of the Model S features accessible from the center console touchscreen computer:
The latest software update has just been rolled out (they're now at version 6.0), and it contains some nice new features:
Traffic-Based Navigation (BETA)
The Model S navigation system will be a lot smarter. Navigation will now provide route suggestions based on real-time traffic and calculate estimated travel times accordingly. It will also update dynamically as traffic conditions change throughout your trip. This feature will also take into account traffic data shared by other Tesla vehicles on the road.
Navigation isn’t particularly useful when commuting between home and work because most of us usually know the way. But if traffic has an effect on a typical route, it’s helpful to know in advance. Now, Model S will monitor traffic before you even start your weekday commute and alert you with a pop-up message on the 17-inch touchscreen when a faster route is available.
Model S will synch with your smartphone to bring you a large in-car view of your daily schedule. If you’ve already set locations for particular events, you don’t have to worry about re-entering the details into your car’s navigation system. Instead, you can just tap on the event in your calendar to bring up route directions.
You will have the ability to start your Model S using only your smartphone. This function, which is particularly useful if you forget your key fob, will be accessible through the Tesla mobile app and requires you to input your password for each use.
Location-Based Air Suspension
If you regularly drive on roads or driveways that require higher than normal clearance, your Model S will remember where you previously selected high ride heights and automatically adjust the air suspension at those locations. This feature will be especially handy for people who have steep driveways. (Model S must be equipped with air suspension for this function to work.)
Name Your Car
You can now make your Model S nickname official. The car’s name will appear in the Tesla mobile app and in the About Your Tesla section on the touchscreen.
Power Management Options
A new power management option will put Model S into energy saving mode at night to help maximize available energy. There’ll also be an option that allows the Tesla mobile app to always connect immediately to the car, while still saving power.
One interesting feature that many Tesla owners have been requesting (and that isn't in the 6.0 software update) is for the Tesla iPhone app to use the fingerprint sensor (TouchID) to unlock and start the car. This would be a pretty secure way to replace a key fob... It's clever enough that I wouldn't be surprised if Tesla did it.