Latest Tesla Software Updates: Third-Party Chargers, Track Mode, and More!

by Denis Gurskiy
Tesla Software Updates

One of this automakers many benefits is their ability to continuously improve and add to their vehicles through a Tesla over-the-air update. The company is constantly looking to improve the safety of their vehicles, adding owner requested features, or simply making owning a Tesla more fun. With each Tesla software update your car feels new again. Here’s everything you need to know about the latest Tesla software updates along with previous versions and release notes.


Latest Tesla Software Update

The Tesla software update today can be a little confusing. Not every vehicle is on the same version, updates are done in batches spontaneously, and not all features are available to all cars. You can check out our Tesla software update history and release notes showcasing compatibility and breakdowns below.

The current and latest Tesla update today is 2020.8.1, but don’t start to worry if you’re a bit behind. Tesla rolls out their updates in small batches. You can use TeslaFi, a Tesla firmware tracker, to view fleet progress and check out what percent of the Tesla owners are on which Tesla software versions.

At this point, Teslafi is a necessary tool if you want to truly stay up to date with your car. While many use it as a free Tesla firmware tracker, it’s much more than that. When registered you can track everything about your vehicle such as range loss, electricity savings, software updates, and charging data. If you wish, you can check out their full list of features on their About page. The site uses data from those registered to give us a better understanding of Tesla’s overall fleet. The service is well worth it if you’re data-driven or just want to know if you are truly getting the most out of your battery. If you’re feeling extra adventurous, Teslafi has a leaderboard tracking the longest ranges achieved on a single charge.

You can earn a month-long free trial simply by using our referral code, EVBite.

How To Update Your Tesla’s Software

The latest Tesla software update is usually reserved for those in the early access program. Those who purchased the FSD package prior to March 2019 are in a second program and receive updates slightly faster than the general public. There was also an opportunity to enter the program through gaining a certain amount of referrals but that option is now gone.

When a new Tesla software update is available, your car will notify you with a request to install it. There is currently no way to force a Tesla software update. The company pushes out available updates at random and the cars slowly download them in the background. You can promote faster download times and more frequent updates by leaving your car connected to WiFi. Additionally you can go into your car’s settings and change your update preferences for priority support.

‘Controls’ > ‘Software’ > ‘Software Update Preference’

If your Tesla software update failed you’ll just have to wait for the company to push it out again. The same process above applies to Tesla map updates as well.

What Tesla Features Do I Get?

Not all vehicles get all the new features. Your available Tesla features will be dependent on your MCU (Media Control Unit), your Autopilot version, and your countries regulations. All new Tesla’s built today are on Autopilot 3 with MCU 2. Any car built after March 2018 should receive all new and present features excluding those that are region-specific.

For your convinced, we’ve compiled a list outlining Tesla features with their respective Autopilot and MCU version. If you’re wondering what your car is missing out on or are considering buying a used Tesla we highly recommend checking out our list.

We also suggest you head over to the latest Tesla software update mega-thread on Reddit for some discussions with other owners.


Introducing new Navigation (Beta) (Only Model S/X)

Introducing a new navigation system for your vehicle that provides improved routes, more accurate arrival times, and a more responsive instrument cluster view to better display upcoming maneuvers.

For China: This release also includes new maps on the touchscreen. You can now view the maps in satellite view and see nearby points of interest.

First Noticed 2020.8 (March 2020) MCU 1+ AP 2+

Some general improvements to the navigation system is always a bonus especially when they include improved routes. The fact that this update is only for the Model S/X makes it seem like the Model 3 navigation did not warrent any improvements.


Driving Visualization Improvements

The driving visualization can now display additional objects which include stop lights, stop signs and select road markings. The stop sign and stop light visualizations are not a substitute for an attentive driver and will not stop the car. To see these additional objects in your driving visualization, tap Controls > Autopilot > Self Driving Visualization Preview.

First Noticed 2020.8 (March 2020) MCU 1+ AP 3+

If you have been following these updates you most likly have noticed that this has already been a feature added a few months ago. This version of the visualization improvements are essentially the same, but the updates are now being pushed to other regions of the world as they were initally only avalible in the US.


Track Mode Improvements (Only Model 3)

Track Mode has been improved to make it easier to monitor the status of your car, create custom track mode settings profiles and record your track day data.

Monitor the status of your car motors, battery, brakes and tires, allowing you to adjust your driving in real time. G-meter, a real-time accelerometer, can now be viewed in the Cards area of the touchscreen. The map now displays a Lap Timer. Follow the onscreen instructions to place a start/finish pin on the map. At the completion of each lap, the Lap Timer displays the duration of the lap. It also displays the times associated with the previous and best laps in the driving session.

Track Mode allows you to save up to 20 Track Mode profiles to suit your preferences or driving scenario, or customize for a specific track. A new settings profile can be created by tapping Track Mode Settings > Add New Settings, entering a name for the settings profile, then adjusting settings including Handling Balance, Stability Assist, Regenerative Braking, Post-Drive Cooling and Compressor Overclock. Refer to the Owner’s Manual for more information regarding each setting.

You can now save a video and data of the Track Mode driving session to a plugged in USB flash drive which must contain a folder named “TeslaTrackMode” (without the quotation marks). When “Save Dashcam for Laps” is enabled, Track Mode stores a video of each lap in a driving session when using the Lap Timer. Track Mode also stores the car status and telemetry data including details about the vehicle’s position, speed, acceleration, and use of accelerator which is stored as a .CSV file on the USB flash drive.

First Noticed 2020.8 (March 2020) MCU 1+ AP 2+

Along with the all-new Tesla Track Pack for the Model 3, Tesla has pushed some new updates to the Track Mode found in the Model 3 Performance. While there are no performance boosts in the update, it does allow any serious track-day goer to monitor their Model 3 for any issues or overheating. On top of that, you will now be able to watch your track runs complete with telemetry data to either admire your handiwork or figure out which corners you need to work on.


Third Party Charging Stations (California Only)

Now you can find third-party charging options with your in-car navigation – select sites in the San Francisco Bay Area are available now with additional locations across the US coming soon. To access, press the lightning bolt icon on the bottom of your touchscreen, scroll down and select a Supercharger, Destination Charging or third-party charging location to navigate to.

First Noticed 2020.8 (March 2020) MCU 1+ AP 1+

A very welcome addition to make Tesla ownership even more streamlined as you won’t have to rely on services like PlugShare or OpenChargeMap to find non-Tesla chargers in your area. The addition comes a few months after Tesla formed a partnership with EVgo to have Telsa’s propriatary connectors deployed to all of EVgo’s chargers nationwide. For the time being the feature is only found in the Bay Area of California but will hopefully roll out gradully as Tesla confirms the locations of other electric car chargers.


Bluetooth Improvement

To improve the audio transition from phone-to-car when entering your vehicle, Bluetooth now connects to your paired phone only after you are sitting in the driver’s seat and all doors are closed. As a reminder, you can pair your phone to Bluetooth by touching the Bluetooth icon on the top of your touchscreen and then “Add New Device”.

First Noticed 2020.8 (March 2020) MCU 1+ AP 1+

Tired of your phone call being interupped because your Tesla decided to pair your phone before you even had the chance to sit down in the car? Well worry no more.


Regenerative Braking (Only Model S/X)

Regenerative braking force has been increased to improve the driving experience and increase how much energy is actively returned to the battery when slowing down.

First Noticed 2020.8 (March 2020) MCU 1+ AP 1+

Not satisfied with the amount of regenerative braking in your Model S/X and wish that you could have more energy transfered back into your car? Once again, worry no more.


Improved Voice Command Reliability

We have improved voice command reliability, including in areas with poor connectivity. Note: to use voice commands, simply tap the right steering wheel button and speak your command after the beep – there is no need to press and hold the button.

First Noticed 2020.8 (March 2020) MCU 1+ AP 1+

Further quality of life improvements have been pushed with improved reliability with voice commands, hopefully cutting down on the amount of times you yell at your car for not properly understainds what you just said.


Additional Vehicle Information

View additional information regarding the configuration of your car by tapping Controls > Software > Additional vehicle information.

First Noticed 2020.4.1 (January 2020) MCU 1+ AP 2+

A very small update for the likes of North America, Europe, and Australia, the new update gives you a new screen that gives you a new screen with small tidbits of additional infromation. The new screen gives you infromation that you didn’t think you would want, such as what type of motors are in the front and rear of the car. It certainly not the most useful feature in the world, but it does give you just that much more information about your car. On the other hand, the Chinese Market recieved a much more substaintial update that included games such as DouDiZhu and MahJong along with adding BiliBili and YouKu to the Chinese Tesla Theater. Aside from enterntainment additions, the Chinese update also recieved and Air Quality Index and Weather and most excitingly the beta version of Smart Summon which is making its Chinese debut.


Driving Visualization Improvements

The driving visualization can now display additional objects which include stoplights, stop signs and select road markings. The stop sign and stop light visualizations are not a substitute for an attentive driver and will not stop the car. To see these additional objects in your driving visualization, tap Controls > Autopilot > Full Self-Driving Visualization Preview.

First Noticed 2019.50.1 (December 2019) MCU 1+ AP 3+

As a further refinement of the Stop Sign Warning that was featured in the previous update, the driving visualization will now attempt to show you even more objects such as stoplights, stop signs, and other road markings. Once again it will not respond to stop signs at this point, but you will be able to gauge how accurate Tesla’s latest iteration of Autopilot is really like.


Voice Commands

Voice commands have been rebuilt to understand natural language. For this initial release, we focused on commands that minimize having to touch the screen so you can keep your eyes on the road. A few areas and examples of what you can say are:

Climate: “Set the temperature to 70”, “Turn on the passenger seat heater”
Vehicle: “Adjust my right mirror”, “Open the glovebox”
Navigation: “Let’s go to work”, “Where are the nearby supercharging stations”
Media: “Play the Beatles”, “Search for Joe Rogan podcast”,
Communication: “Call Davis Lewis”, “Send a text message to Evan”
Other: “Show me the rear camera”, “Open Autopilot settings”

Anonymized voice commands will be captured to further train and improve the system in future software updates.

First Noticed 2019.40.50.1 (December 2019) MCU 2+ AP 2+

In an effort to have you sound less like you’re giving orders to a robot, Tesla has started to revamp its voice command structure to understand “natural language” better and encourage you to use voice commands instead of the touch screen so that you keep your eyes on the road. As always Tesla will continue to try and improve on this feature and release more refined versions in future updates.


Phone Improvements

You can now read and respond to text messages using your right scroll wheel button. When a new message is received press the right scroll wheel button to have your text message read out loud and press again to respond by speaking out loud. You will also be able to view messages as they come in via the “Cards” section of the touchscreen.

To view messages that have been received while your phone is connected via Bluetooth, tap the Application Launcher > Call > Messages. You can read and reply to a message by tapping an entry in the Messages list. To enable this feature, tap the Bluetooth icon on the top of the display, and enable “Sync Messages”. Once enabled, you can also choose to play a chime whenever a new text message is received by enabling “Chime on New Message”.

Additionally, if you have favorite phone contacts on your device, you can now easily access them from the Favorites tab of the Phone app.

Note: Notifications need to be enabled on your device from the phone’s Bluetooth settings to send and receive text messages. Due to the limitations of Bluetooth support from your device, you will not be able to send group messages. As usual, Bluetooth behavior may depend on make and model of your device.

First Noticed 2019.40.50.1 (December 2019) MCU 2+ AP 2+

In another effort to have a more hands-free experience, Tesla now added the ability to have your text messages read out loud and will also allow you to respond to text messages by speaking out loud. Additionally, you will be able to view messages directly as they come in via the “Cards” section of the touchscreen. While our update was rather small, the Chinese market got a much hefty update that included games such as Happy DouDiZhu and Magjong along with additions to the Tesla Theater which included BiliBili and YouKu. There was also an Air Quality Index and Weather and a ready to go QR code that you can bring up and schedule a service via WeChat. Last but not least, Smart Summon appears to have made its way to Chinese shores.


Camp Mode

Your car can now maintain airflow, temperature, interior lighting, as well as play music, and power devices when Camp Mode is enabled. To enable Camp Mode, tap the fan icon at the bottom of the touchscreen and set Keep Climate On to CAMP while your car is in PARK. Big batteries rock.

First Noticed 2019.40.50.1 (December 2019) MCU 1+ AP 2+

Feel like camping out in Tesla? Tired of having to tap your screen every time your screen goes dim so that your car doesn’t power off? Well, Camp Mode might just be the thing for you! Turning on the option will allow your car to maintain all of its functions while in Park so that you can comfortably chill out without having your music or air conditioning stop.


Tesla Theater Twitch

You can now watch Twitch in the Tesla Theater app. To launch Tesla Theater, tap the Entertainment icon in the Application Launcher and select the Theater tab while your car is in PARK. Note: Premium Connectivity is required to stream videos over cell. To subscribe to Premium Connectivity, please visit your Tesla Account online.

First Noticed 2019.40.50.1 (December 2019) MCU 2+ AP 2+

Can’t leave home without watching your favorite Fortnite stream? Tesla’s got you.


Stardew Valley

You’ve inherited your grandfather’s old farm plot in Stardew Valley. Armed with hand-me-down tools and a few coins, you set out to begin your new life. Can you learn to live off the land and turn these overgrown fields into a thriving home?

First Noticed 2019.40.50.1 (December 2019) MCU 2+ AP 2+

As a holiday bonus, Stardew Valley becomes the second modern full-fledged game to make its way onto the Tesla…console? Stardew Valley might be the perfect way to kill tens of minutes while your charging as the whole game revolves around you building up and managing your farm. Need 10-20 minutes to charge up? Why not go pick some of your crops or figure out your next expansion plot. Above you can find a video of some gameplay.


Backgammon

Two players, two sides, one is light, one is dark. Play Backgammon against your passenger or challenge your Tesla to a game. Move by dragging and dropping the checker pieces during your turn. As with all Tesla Arcade Games, you can play when your car is in PARK by tapping the Application Launcher, then tap Entertainment > Arcade and select your desired game from the menu.

First Noticed 2019.40.50.1 (December 2019) MCU 1+ AP 2+

Need a more classic game to get you through your wait? Challenge your friend to one of the oldest board games in human history, all in the comfort of your futuristic electric car.


Voice Keyboard

You can now use dictation to input text in your car. Simply tap the microphone icon on the keyboard to input text via voice control.

First Noticed 2019.40.50.1 (December 2019) MCU 1+ AP 2+

Another feature to keep your eyes on the road. You will now be able to speak out your text input after tapping the microphone icon on the keyboard.


View Previous Updates Here


FAQs

What is the latest Tesla software update?

Currently, the latest Tesla software update is 2020.8.1.

How do you update Tesla software?

When your car is ready to have a software update, a notification will appear on your touchscreen that will prompt you to either install it now or schedule it for later.

What's in the new Tesla software update

The newest update comes with: improved navigation for the Model S/X, a Track Mode update for the Performance Model 3, Driving Visualization Improvements, and third-party chargers now showing up in the navigation.

How can I get the Tesla software update faster?

You can go into your settings 'Controls' > 'Software' > 'Software Update Preference'. From there you can switch from 'STANDARD' to 'ADVANCED' which should allow you to receive updates sooner.

How do you download a Tesla update?

When your car is ready to have a software update, a notification will appear on your touchscreen that will prompt you to either install it now or schedule it for later.

Can you force a Tesla software update?

Some people report that holding the 'ADVANCED' button in the 'Software Update Preference' screen will force the car to check for an update, while others have had success calling their service centers to get the car updated there. Results may vary.

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2 comments

Chrus February 1, 2020 - 5:31 am

You have not mentioned that this update provides a lot of pretty useless stuff like backgammon but breaks one of the best things about owning a Tesla which is the voice command to play any Spotify song. Now playing music just takes you to a menu so you have to type. This is really dangerous IMO. So don’t update if you haven’t already. Can live with a glitchy car.

Reply
Linda Whitmore May 6, 2019 - 10:27 am

Regarding the new Sentry Mode, I am concerned about the Hispanic men who will provide this around-the-clock security. You wrote that the new service “activates cameras and senors to monitor any criminal activity.” (Ha!)

Reply

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