Model S

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Frustration regarding lack of a good smartphone interface in the Tesla

edited January 2019 in Model S
I just came back from helping a friend purchase a new Subaru Forester, and about 2 months ago helped my son purchase a new Kia Soul. Both of these vehicles are substantially less expensive than my state of the art tech 2017 Tesla S90D, yet they come with Apple Car Play / Android Auto, allowing safer driving by mirroring their phone functions on their touchscreens, allowing both cars to audibly read incoming text messages, create voice texts through the car's audio system, integrate Waze traffic info, and many other features - basically taking full advantage of existing smartphone's capabilities and integrating it in their audio systems for the driver's convenience.

Please, no flaming - I realize the Tesla is not a compatibly priced car for a multitude of reasons which we all know in great detail - price and vehicle performance are not the source my frustration. The idea that virtually every new vehicle offered on the market today, regardless of price / brand / propulsion method, already have superior smartphone integration than Tesla owners have available to us, is very frustrating to me.

Over the course of dozens and dozens of updates, through Version 8.0, 8.1, and now 9.0, over the 3 years and 2 Teslas I've had, I've seen several new features added, and many improvements on others - but no improvement has been offered or or any imminent changes mentioned for smartphone integration. No Apple, No Android. And while I sort of understand not using those 2 systems from Tesla's "everything we do ourselves" point of view - why is there still no dedicated (and hopefully superior) Tesla smartphone interface system to better handle our smartphone features, and allow for safer driving? Given the focus on technology and safety that Tesla claims to prioritize (and we all enjoy enough to own), I find this one technological abyss unfortunately frustrating.

Look, I am addicted to my Tesla, I get every vehicle can't do everything...but integrating your smartphone in your vehicle is high tech at it's most basic, and given that fact virtually every Tesla owner uses a smartphone of some type, I find it a shame that it hasn't been made a higher priority for Tesla vehicles to provide such a system to us by now.

Thanks for listening....


  • edited January 2019
    None of those other cars can fart on demand , so there's that...
  • edited January 2019
  • edited November -1
    Tesla is committed to safety, and having people texting away and playing games while driving isn't all that safe. Access to hundreds of apps is great for a phone when your not driving, but far less when you should be paying attention to the road. Dealing with all these apps, often with different UIs and commands requires real thought - focus that is taken away from actually driving.

    I suspect most car companies include Carplay etc hoping you're crunch the car and then buy another. Great deal for them - not so much for you if you get killed.

    You'll also find very few ultra luxury cars include things like Carplay. So Tesla can emulate the high end or low end. I prefer Tesla looks towards the high end rather offering bottom end disposable cars.
  • edited January 2019
    Sometimes in the rush to include the highest of high-tech, certain basics tend to fall behind. Upon placing my iPhone 6S on the integrated charge plug of my newly acquired S75D (back in July 2016) the first thing I noted was that the console cover would not close because the phone stuck up too high. I solved this rudimentary engineering problem by having the sliding console cover removed (which allows for more use of the console space anyway).

    One would think that this possibility might have occurred to the designers who decided where the phone charge plug should go.
  • edited January 2019
    Have you noticed that simply answering a call in the TESLA dramatically reduces your concentration on driving? I most certainly do and on one occasion have actually driven at higher speed than intended through a well known speed camera trap on a route I drive daily simply because of my distraction with the conversation. Yeah, I paid the penalty.
    If they introduced the features you ask for but locked them out automatically while the car was not in park, then yes, I would agree with you entirely.
  • edited January 2019
    Amen OP My 2012 Ram pickup puts my Tesla to sham, with my phone. I guess Tesla is to busy making fart apps and sht like v9 to screw up our cars, to work on something that we could actually use, and might bring them up to date with all other cars. Techy umm not so much.
  • edited January 2019
    larry, others that want to know real answers to questions like this send Twitter messages to Elon. Have you tried that?
  • edited November -1
    IMHO answering a call is much less distracting than futzing with climate, or doing lots of other screen things that force your eyes way down and to the right.
  • bpbp
    edited January 2019
    Before the first Model S was sold, Tesla showed an App Store on the sample console displays. The App Store icon was removed when Model S went into production. Afterward, Musk stated Tesla was planning to provide a programming interface for 3rd party apps and add the App Store.

    After several years, Musk stated that instead of the 3rd party app store and programming interface, Tesla planned to provide some form of screen mirroring, though not necessarily Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, either a 3rd party or inhouse solution.

    Due to potential security issues, eliminating the 3rd party apps running onboard makes a lot of sense. It's easier to protect the onboard software by only allowing access through screen mirroring applications running on smartphones.

    It's been several years since Musk made this statement, and there hasn't been any indication Tesla has made progress on screen mirroring. Other than adding the limited calendar integration, there hasn't been any significant improvement in smartphone integration since the Model S was first sold mid-2012.

    And with other manufacturers introducing competing long range EVs (starting with the Bolt) with vehicles including Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, the lack of this feature could start impacting Tesla's sales, especially when they introduce the $35K Model 3 (this year?).

    We regularly use the Audible app on our smartphones because Tesla still hasn't fixed the long standing issues with playing audio books using USB files. We periodically will listen to the SiriusXM app when travelling so we can listen to our hometown live sports broadcasts. And, if we had it, we'd likely use our smartphone apps, if we could interact with them on the large console display (probably a better solution for a browser, than using the slow and limited onboard browser).

    Tesla (Musk) should at least make a new statement about Tesla's plans in this area. Since they've demonstrated the ability to add new features with OTA updates, even if they don't have screen mirroring today, if it's coming in the next major release (V10?), that might be enough to satisfy potential customers.
  • edited January 2019
    @bp - Excellent points except I do disagree with "the lack of this feature could start impacting Tesla's sales [against the Bolt EV]".

    Bolt 2018 sales: 18, 019
    Model 3 2018 sales: 139,782

    So it appears having CarPlay in the Bolt has dramatically hurt sales of the Bolt and GM should remove CarPlay to boost Bolt sales. Ok, a silly argument both ways :)

    All the rest you wrote is good!
  • edited January 2019
    I used to think I really wanted CarPlay until I had to spend a couple months with a Cadillac XTS that had it while my Tesla was in the body shop. Other than it making it slightly easier to report a Waze event, I didn't see any substantial benefit to have it and I have been really happy to get back to the Tesla interface.

    In the Cadillac, you had to physically connect the phone, which is one big strike against it in my mind. Once that was done (and it often took multiple tries to connect and have the phone recognized), you had to manually start the CarPlay interface on the screen. This had to be done every time I got in the car.

    I can still hold a button on my phone and use Siri to make phone calls or start playlists through the Tesla speakers, even if I leave the phone in my pocket. Tesla's nav has evolved to become my favorite nav system and even the Tesla voice recognition seems to be pretty good.
  • edited January 2019
    @Rowlie +1. I also used to want apple car play until i had a rental that had it. i was underwhelmed to say the least.
  • edited January 2019
    Tesla isn’t going to make features like this a priority while the demand for Teslas remains high and there are few real competitors out there. That will change at some point, but for now we have to take what they’ll give us. I’d like to see Tesla fix existing features to work flawlessly (USB media for example) before adding new ones.
  • edited January 2019
    As much as I want carplay, I'd rather have a podcast player that isn't embarrassing. The podcast player we have right now is a sin against humanity. Thank god I have autopilot - I spend more time messing around in that thing trying to find a podcast I haven't already listened to than anything else in the car. It's pathetic that there's no indication of 'new podcast available' on one you've favorited, or the ability to play them in reverse order - or even, shockingly, just to keep track of where you were in the podcast and not reset to the beginning of the show.

    It's amazing for how impressive the tech in the car is, the software we interact with on a daily basis is meh.
  • edited January 2019 - I love my Tesla, but I'm not sure you understand the safety impact of a good phone interface. (And your statement about folks playing games...have your checked out the Easter Egg box in your vehicle lately ???) While I thank everyone for their comments on the pros and cons of using a smartphone in the car, and I certainly do appreciate the lovely fireplace and fantastic fart controller, that is not my point. I'm not discussing the whether or not using the phone is safe or not; the fact is most folks who are active in business or spent a lot of time on the road use their phone in the car, and if its use is made less distracting, it is safer for the driver and all others on the road.. Voice to text and text to voice are substantially safer and less distracting than actually reading the messages on the phone, or trying to type in a reply. The fact that Tesla says they are committed to passenger safety, but they install an obsolete phone interface that will lead to distracted driving, is ridiculous to me. The reason we do not have a better system is politics - Musk doesn't want to be beholden to Apple or Google, 2 probable competitors in his goal to attain level 5 autonomous driving.
    Just like with smartphones themselves, Tesla's popularity will be affected as more EV options enter the market, making the creature comforts of each a more important part of the consumer's decision to buy. Tesla has it easy right now - basically, no competition, so its easy to overlook many other features available elsewhere. That situation is certain to change, and it would be a shame for someone as forward thinking as Mr .musk to fall behind the 8-ball due to stubbornness or shortsightedness.
  • edited January 2019
    I agree with the OP 100%. There should be better smart phone integration. Simple things like listening to a podcast or Pandora should be much easier than Tesla makes them.
  • bpbp
    edited January 2019
    The Bolt turned out not to be a competitive vehicle for several reasons - likely due to the lack of a long distance charging network and a lack of enthusiasm by the dealer network in selling the Bolt vs. higher margin ICEs.

    This will likely change - possibly first in Europe and then in the US - and when that happens customers may start comparing features like smartphone integration before making their purchase.

    Today, if a customer wants a long range EV, Tesla still is the only choice in town, so the extra features like smartphone integration doesn't currently have a major impact on sales.
  • edited January 2019
    @bp - Agree on the Bolt. I was just pointing out the argument for or against CarPlay having a significant influence on sales is a weak argument. My guess is 95% of people buying a new car don't even know what CarPlay is. Many would not even realize it's not compatible with thier non-Apple phone.

    Most buyers look at the combination of features, style, price, performance, utility, etc. to elect which car to buy. Tesla does not satisfy every possible need, nor does any other car. Those that did buy the Tesla, felt the features and value met our needs, or we would have bought another car. Now, I love features, and there is nothing wrong with wanting better features or new features - but I really doubt the lack of CarPlay will have a significant influence on Tesla sales for years to come.

    @larry - it's clear we disagree on the safety aspects, and I respect that. My view is any kind of texting (text or voice) while driving is highly distracting and a significant safety concern. Ideally, phone companies should completely block texting (incoming or outgoing) while the phone is moving more than 5 mph. Sadly, I realize too many people are highly addicted to texting and are unwilling to stop no matter how much danger it puts themselves, their family or others on the road. I appload Tesla for doing as much as they can to restrict this dangerous practice.
  • edited January 2019
    I also agree with OP 100%.

    I find that the existing interface is needy (requiring often more physical interaction than necessary) and non tactile (meaning it requires the attention of my eyes). As well as that, the size of the screen means the cognitive load on scanning for the right place and then touching it is greater.

    For tactile inputs like the scroll wheel/buttons on the steering wheel, it seems they didn’t find the sweet spot for tension. I often scroll and click where I intended to just click. Maybe this has been resolved in newer models.

    “The podcast player we have right now is a sin against humanity. Thank god I have autopilot” - this comment should worry you. Someone is depending on the car driving itself while they interact with it. Some of us do not have AP.

    Stating that Tesla is obsessed with safety, then acknowledging that they give us a (terrible) web browser that you can operate while driving, seems a very clear oxymoron.
  • edited May 2019
    I don't necessarily want/need carplay or android auto but other "luxury carmakers" such as MB even with their infotainment system can read files off an iphone plugged into a specific USB port to provide a list of songs by artist...etc.

    I think it would be nice if we got something like that with our smartphone plugged into USB or connected over bluetooth. I 100% believe that Tesla has the SW prowess to make it happen and would be great in conjunction with say...spotify instead of Slacker in the US.
  • edited May 2019
    I have to agree that everything I've read about the communications and media interface on the Tesla is not impressive. I get mine tomorrow so my opinion may change, but it seems that several others feel the same way. The only positive I take away from this is that Tesla can make changes on the fly and may create something great if enough owners show them that it is an important feature for many of us to have a clean mobile integration (and I concur that Spotify in the U.S. would be excellent).
  • edited May 2019
    @KenR - There is a lot of FUD from competitors and Tesla haters. I think you'll be happy with what Tesla has done. Interesting that Consumer reports survey of car owners found Tesla's infotainment system ranked best of all auotmakers in every category: (see chart at end if you don't want to read all the text).
  • edited May 2019
    KenR - There is also a lot of anit-FUD/Tesla Koolaid drinking around here. Every time I deal with the company, I hate them more, as I find their customer service worse than the legendary Comcast.

    I have been waiting for a part (windshield washer nozzle) replacement, as the stream keeps going out of alignment. I brought this to their attention in March, at my 4 year service. They readjusted it twice, but it doesn't hold. So they ordered a replacement nozzle, mobile service brought the wrong part, and now they tell me if they need to reorder the part, it won't be covered as I'm out of warranty. But I brought up this issue WITHIN warranty. Just an example of what you will be dealing with.
  • edited May 2019
    @Ken - barry seems to be a long term Tesla hater, but perhaps he has valid reasons. Often derails threads with minor issues that to him are the end of the world or occured by someone else years ago. It isn't the norm. You'll love the car and the company is quite good too. If you don't believe me, look at independent surveys - for example, Consumer reports rates Tesla #1 in owner satisfaction.
  • edited May 2019
    Although I like Car Play a lot and see the major advantage of having my iPhone apps run on the car's screen, I am happy that Tesla has not implemented Car Play or the Android equivalent. Why? With the Tesla having so much software running the car, I prefer the safety aspect of NOT having the possibility of a third party Apple app interfering with the car's software. That could be a huge safety problem and one I certainly do not want to run into. With third party apps interfacing directly to the car's software, even if only through the visual interface, there are way too many opportunities for malicious intent (or accidental bug) to eventually bridge into the car's operating software. That would not be pretty at all.
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