Tesla’s holiday update includes design-your-own Light Show open to all

Holiday update v11.0 features a bumper crop of new features — even more than we initially realized.


Rob Maurer (@teslapodcast) via Twitter

Feature-packed over-the-air software updates loaded with fun and functional new capabilities for Tesla vehicles have become an annual tradition for Elon Musk and the company at year’s end. On Tuesday, Roadshow published the first emerging details about the company’s latest installment, v11.0. Then, on Friday, the EV manufacturer revealed further information, detailing capabilities far beyond functional upgrades like a new, Hyundai-like automatic blind-spot camera display and improved navigation. Yes, even in the midst of the legal controversy around Passenger Play, v11.0 includes new games for Tesla Arcade including Sonic the Hedgehog, Sudoku and The Battle of Polytopia. But there’s also a new feature available for everyone — even those who don’t even own a Tesla.

The latter is an update to Tesla Light Show, a function we’ve seen in the past that enables Tesla audio systems to play holiday favorites like Dance of the Sugar Plum Fairy (The Nutcracker Suite) paired with a synchronized light show. Now, Tesla opened up the capability to support XLights, an open-source, free software that allows users to create their own vehicular light show on a computer. That file can then be uploaded to compatible Tesla vehicles using a USB drive. The rub is, you can’t use XLights to engineer light shows for non-Tesla vehicles, but you can compose your own sound-and-light performances for friends’ or clients’ cars. 

(Note: It’s worth pointing out that the idea of an automaker actively encouraging users to upload a personalized version of any software to their vehicles is unusual. Even within XLights’ presumably limited parameters, most car companies’ cybersecurity teams would frown upon the idea of opening up any part of their vehicle’s electronic architecture to outside programming. It’s tempting to view this as a sign of Tesla’s confidence in the hack-resistance of its software, but even if you don’t, it’s further proof that Tesla marches to the beat of its own drummer.)

Other v11.0 features revealed in Tesla’s official blog post include an updated user interface for models powered by Intel Atom processors. Inspired by the latest mid-cycle refresh updates to the Model S hatchback and Model X SUV, these features include a Saab-like Dark Mode, a user-definable app launcher and a rationalized control menu.

Music buffs will appreciate a slew of small updates, too, including five levels of Immersive Audio that now include an Auto adaptive setting that features manual subwoofer control.

Finally, for those living in cold-weather climates, there are also new, frigid-friendly features, including automatic front seat heaters that activate based on cabin conditions and HVAC settings. This appears to function similarly to the remote-start-activated cabin preconditioning function found on Stellantis’ vehicles. The company says the function is now available using the Tesla App, as well as via vehicles’ center touchscreens — even at a lower state of charge.

For all of the v11.0 details — including new features not detailed here — be sure to check out Tesla’s new official blog update.


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