On this special holiday week, I talk about Tesla’s latest update. An exclusive holiday update that not only brought the new FSD (Full-Self Driving) Visualization Preview but many updates and new features as well. So let’s dive right into software update 2019.40.50.1!!

Voice Commands

New voice commands just got added to the already added set. These commands can operate many things on your car so that you don’t need to go into the display. New voice commands might not seem like a big deal to some. As we get more and more features, it’s only going to get more difficult trying to find those options in menus.

Just take a look at any smartphones. The settings page for any of them is massive, and you can get lost drilling into each option, trying to find a specific item. Being able to tell the car what you want will only help to get your eyes on the road! The biggest complaint my wife is that on Autopilot, I’m on the screen looking at different things. No more!!

Check out the already discovered voice commands!!

Phone Improvements

The one thing that CarPlay & Android Auto had over Tesla was the ability to receive and send text messages. Now the much need feature is available on Teslas. As someone who drives with Do Not Disturb While Driving, it’s, it’s great to see and respond to an urgent text message as it comes through. All while keeping both hands on the wheels and paying attention to my surroundings.

Favorites were added in this update as well! Now, this is a feature I always wanted. Between calling my parents, my wife, or anyone else on my favorites, it’s sometimes hard to search the contacts. Voice commands struggles with my mom’s name. Now this will be synced and easy to find.

Camp Mode

I’m not a camper, so probably won’t use this much. But lot so of folks have been using their Teslas for camping. There are even beds that fit in the Tesla when the seats are down! Now there’s a specific mode that will you can use that would set your car for camping by setting the lightning, airflow, play music, and power your devices. And as the release notes state, it helps to have a big battery.

Tesla Theater

Two weeks ago, we knew more streaming services coming into the Tesla Theater. Twitch is now available! Twitch is a popular service for streaming live or pre-recorded video broadcasts. Though it’s known for video game streams, it has since expanded to other feeds, including music festivals and much much more!


Tesla Arcade added two new games to the ever-growing list. One is Stardew Valley; the other is Backgammon. Backgammon, like Chess, is another classic game. It’s been ages since I played this game, but I’m sure it would make a lot of people out there happy.

I, personally, don’t know Stardew Valley. But from what I have heard on the latest Ride the Lightning podcast, it’s not one of those quick games you play while you wait. It’s one of those long games where you can spend quite a bit of time playing.

Stardew Valley is an interesting game choice for Tesla. I don’t personally sit in my car play games, but I can see long playing games becoming more popular when Full-Self Driving comes out, and we reach Level 5 Autonomy. Having a good selection of games where you can play as your car takes you to your destination is going to be important in the future. Starting that now will ensure you have everything ready when that time comes.

Voice Keyboard

We can now use dictation to input text into your car. I use this feature to input text faster than using the keyboard on my iPhone & Apple TV. But this is not just a tool for entering text more quickly. It’s an excellent accessibility tool. As more and more people start using Teslas, accessibility for those that are disabled will become not just important, but a necessity. 

TRAX v0.1

My 20-year-old self is all giddy seeing this. I spend a lot of time in my late teens & my 20s in the club & rave scenes. I used to DJ. I was even part of that college project in one of my electrical engineering classes, where we used a Roland TR-808 as a controller.

I was pleasantly shocked when I opened this app and saw a TR-808 on my screen. I had to immediately take a picture and send it to all my friends! TRAX is probably one app I’ll probably mess around with when I’m just hanging around in the car! Seeing that it’s just v0.1, it’s probably not going to be perfect. I’ll be curious if they have support for USB MIDI controllers.

Save Dashcam Clips on Honk

This feature came from a Twitter suggestion. To me, this doesn’t make sense whatsoever. Even after days after thinking about it, I couldn’t even think of one actual use case for it. It’s probably because of the way I use my horn is different from how others use their own horn.

So I live in a densely populated city. San Diego is the 8th largest city in the US. Before that, I lived in Chicago, 3rd largest city in the US. In both of these cities, we usually use our horns when we want to get someone’s attention. For example, if there’s a person in front of us not moving because they are looking at their cell phone when the light turns green.

Other times I’ve used it is when someone cuts us off, and we want to show our displeasure. We also have to be careful when to use our horns. There have been some sketch areas I’ve been to where honking my horn could lead to an altercation. Best to let that go unless you want to know if that guy in front of you has a baseball bat in his trunk.

I also lived in India; you can’t walk two seconds without someone not using their horns. It’s a way of alerting people you are around while driving. Whether you are behind someone or passing someone, you’ll press the horn even after you passed someone or just want someone to go ahead. From what I’ve head, it’s the same in many Asian countries. This feature would fill up your USB drive pretty quickly.

In all honesty, of all the times I used my horn, I only had to save the video once. And that was because the car in front of me was backing up on the street. And they decided to flick me off. Not sure how folks in the suburbs or rural areas use their horns, but I for sure will have this disabled.

Driver Profiles

Driver profiles now save more settings! This feature is excellent for those that have multiple drivers. It’ll ensure that when you get into the car, the car configurations will be as you have left it before.

New Language Support

For our Danish folks, you can select Danish as your language. Multi-lingual support is always necessary when we talk about globalization. Also important when Robotaxis start. I wouldn’t be surprised if there’s a screen at some point where the individuals in the Robotaxis can select their flag of choice to choose their language!

Full-Self Driving Visualization Preview

And finally, the one feature that got everyone excited, Full-Self Driving (FSD) Visualization Preview. Now to see this, you need the FSD computer, otherwise known as HW3.0. Vehicles built around April 2019 have HW3.0. I have HW2.5, so I can’t view it.

Based on the information online, it looks like it’s a massive update. It shows what the computer will be seeing for FSD. Including additional lane marking, stop signs, even signal lights. I’m sure FSD is running in Shadow Mode to help the AI learn what the driver would do in certain situations.

As Machine Learning continues to learn, this would make FSD more appealing. I’m curious how it will handle itself in more densely populated areas where people, children, dogs, etc., pop out at random parts of the street. Will the car stop or go around them?

Also, parked cars have their challenges. Anyone that ever biked in the city knows this. Doors from parked cars can open at any time. Cars parallel parking would pass the parking spot first. FSD would need to register this and stop before the open parking spot. Will it have the ability to go around the car, even if it’s crossing the double yellow. How about cars that aren’t appropriately parked and sticking into the lane? How does it handle pedestrian crosswalks with flashing lights? I would love to see what HW3.0 sees in these situations and more.

Tesla Tip of the Week

As I mentioned last week, this tip isn’t some jawdropping revelation. However, I did meet someone that didn’t know this. So I’m happy to share this feature. If you are driving with someone that they find your temperature setting either too hot or too cold, your passenger can set the temperature that’s perfect for them!

When you touch the temperature, the pop-out will have a button that says “SYNC.” If you press this, you’ll see two separate temperature controls, one for the driver, the other for the passenger. And if you were to pop out the temperature controls again and press “SYNC,” it’ll merge it back together like before!

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