Tesla app update adds actionable notifications, charge stats, plans for annual FSD/connectivity subscriptions

Tesla has updated their smartphone app to version 4.6 adding some useful new features including actionable notifications and charging stats, and data-miners have found plans for an upcoming cheaper annual subscription to their Full Self-Driving and Premium Connectivity services.

But even with this upcoming cheaper subscription scheme, Tesla has so far shown no interest in ending their practice of charging owners $1k for hardware they already paid for.

The app will also allow Tesla Insurance policyholders to submit claims from within the Tesla app.

Actionable notifications

The new update makes notifications actionable, allowing interaction without needing to open the app.

These notifications include climate control and charging notifications. For example, when you preheat or cool your car, it will notify you when it gets to the desired temperature, and you can turn the climate control off directly from the notification, without having to open the Tesla app. Same for charging, if you plug in and the car starts charging but you don’t want it to, you can tell it to stop from the notification. Here’s what it looks like:

(though we encountered a few bugs when testing this feature for this article; we’re sure they’ll get worked out soon enough)

Speaking of climate, Tesla also added some code to the app to allow remote activation of the formerly in-car-only “Climate Keeper” function. This allows long-term use of the car’s climate control systems, for example if you’re car camping and want to keep the car warm overnight. Remote activation isn’t active yet, but it looks like it should show up soon.

Charge Stats

The new Charge Stats section lets you keep track of your charging sessions, seeing where they happened and the total energy and cost of charging over the course of the last 31 days.

The app will default to average electricity costs in your state, but if you know your electricity rates, you can put them into the app yourself. You can pick your utility and Tesla will automatically fetch a list of rate plans, which you can choose yours from. Perhaps you could even use this to shop around and see how different utility rate plans would affect your charging costs. And if you have a custom or deprecated rate plan (as I do), you can enter in your own custom costs. You can also change your average cost for public charging, if you have particular charging stations you use and know the average cost of.

The app also tracks charging time for time-of-use plans, where electricity prices change depending on what time of day you charge. This will help you keep track of how good you’ve been at charging off-peak – and getting lower electricity rates as a result. All of this is combined together to show you a real estimate of your electricity costs, and how much you’re saving compared to a similar gas car based on average gas prices in your area.

Annual FSD/Premium Connectivity subscriptions coming

This feature was noticed by data miners, and isn’t yet active in the app itself.

Currently Tesla charges $10 a month for “Premium Connectivity,” access to various in-car features like traffic visualization, satellite-view maps, and various other internet features. Without this subscription cars get navigation, but miss out on some other in-car features. Tesla also offers a monthly subscription to its “Full Self-Driving” software at a price of $199 a month.

In the 4.6 update, new code showed up suggesting these will be available as annual subscriptions soon. The new code clearly suggests that it will be possible to switch between monthly and annual subscriptions and states that there will be some sort of discount, though we don’t yet know how much that discount will be, or when the subscriptions will become available.

As of yet, though, Tesla continues their policy of charging owners whose cars do not have the FSD Computer installed – cars built between late 2016 and mid 2019 – for hardware that they were told they already have.

When these cars were built, customers were promised that they had all the hardware for self-driving – a promise that’s still up on Tesla’s website to this day. But when Tesla started offering monthly subscriptions, they told these owners that they need to pay an upgrade fee for new hardware, despite Tesla selling those cars with the promise that they wouldn’t need any additional hardware for self-driving.

We covered this controversy when annual subscriptions first came out, and Tesla responded – but not really. Originally the company was charging $1,500 for the upgrade, and they lowered the price to $1,000 after our story. However, the only acceptable price in this circumstance remains zero, given Tesla’s years of assurances that the hardware was already in the car at purchase time.

We suggested at the time that if Tesla – the largest automaker in the world by market cap which boasts an incredibly high automotive gross margin – really needed to pinch pennies on giving owners equipment they already bought, they could have required a minimum subscription time for the upgrade. This would stop people from trying out FSD for a month and canceling their plans, resulting in a mostly-unnecessary upgrade process for Tesla (which they promised wasn’t needed anyway).

So there’s an opportunity here. Now that Tesla is planning to offer annual subscriptions, perhaps they could waive the $1,000 upgrade charge for owners who buy in to an annual subscription, which would at least partially fulfill the promise that they made to those customers over the course of three years.

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