Tesla has taken a significant step forward in enhancing its in-car user experience, but there’s a catch—it’s only available in China. The electric vehicle giant recently rolled out a software update, tagged 2023.26, that features notable improvements in voice recognition, voice commands, and online routing. These updates are exclusive to China and represent a significant upgrade to the Tesla driving experience in the region.
What’s New in the Update?
Enhanced Online Routing
The update introduces a sophisticated online routing system that adapts to real-time changes in traffic and road conditions. Although it’s unclear how this varies from similar features available in the U.S. and other countries, Tesla promises more efficient routing and better responsiveness to on-the-go changes. To avail of the most current route conditions, users must activate the ‘Online Routing’ option in the navigation settings.
Context-Based Voice Commands
The real game-changer, however, is the advancement in voice command capabilities. Tesla’s new system now understands the context of a user’s request, eliminating the need for specific command words. For example, saying a destination name will automatically initiate navigation to that location, negating the need to start the sentence with ‘Navigate to…’.
Furthermore, the system can also adjust settings based on previous commands. If you’ve set the climate control to 70°F, you can simply say ‘lower’ to decrease the temperature. The voice command feature is activated by pressing the voice recognition button on the steering wheel.
Why is This Update China-Exclusive?
While the press release did not specify why these features are exclusive to China, Tesla often tests new features in limited markets before a broader rollout. Given the size and growth potential of the Chinese auto market, it makes strategic sense for Tesla to introduce these updates there first.
How Does It Compare to Other Voice Assistants?
Although Tesla’s voice command system has improved, it still has some catching up to do when compared to established voice assistants like Siri, Google Assistant, or Alexa. However, this update signifies Tesla’s commitment to enhancing its in-vehicle systems and provides hope that similar features will soon be available in other regions.
Apart from routing and voice commands, the update also includes a refresh of the Himalaya app—a China-specific audio app that offers courses, motivational stories, and podcast-like content.
Tesla’s latest update in China is a big leap forward in terms of voice recognition and online routing. While it remains to be seen when these features will make their way to Teslas in other parts of the world, the update certainly sets a new benchmark for in-car user experience. If Tesla continues along this path, we might soon see voice command features that rival those of leading voice assistants.