It feels like Elon Musk is constantly adding things to his line of popular Tesla vehicles. The massive center touchscreen allows you to stream Netflix, play arcade games, and even display a crackling fireplace. However, even some Tesla drivers agree that their car is missing an important feature.
To date, popular smartphone integration isn’t available in any Tesla car. What’s keeping Tesla from rolling out this feature?
The technology inside Tesla cars
Tesla doesn’t offer smartphone integration, but its own system can perform many of the same functions. Tesla cars have Spotify built in, a music streaming service similar to Apple Music and iTunes. If you log in to your Tesla account through the car’s Wi-Fi, you can also access your phone’s music library.
The navigation software partially uses Google Maps, and drivers also have access to the YouTube app. However, Tesla’s infotainment system can’t read your text messages aloud or allow you to answer them with voice recognition. These functions make people less likely to try and check their texts or make phone calls while driving.
Why are Apple CarPlay and Android Auto so popular?
Smartphone integration basically allows you to use many functions of your smartphone while you’re driving. The convenience is appealing: drivers can play music and respond to texts without taking their eyes off the road. The demand for these two apps is so great that many cars now offer them as standard equipment.
Some automakers took longer to offer smartphone integration. BMW’s Apple CarPlay required a subscription at first and Toyota didn’t offer Android Auto until fairly recently. However, Tesla has made no indication it intends to integrate Apple CarPlay or Android Auto on its vehicles in the future. Tesla drivers can still use their iPhone to control the windows or summon Siri, but that’s it.
Many Tesla owners want a change
One Reddit thread is filled with thousands of comments from dissatisfied Tesla owners about the matter. Several users report that the Spotify app and Bluetooth function are prone to malfunctioning and crashing while in use. While some users have no problem with the Tesla infotainment system, drivers want to at least have an option to switch.
Forcing drivers to use a piece of hardware could potentially scare away potential customers. In fact, many Reddit users said they won’t even consider buying a Tesla if it doesn’t have smartphone support. It’s completely possible (and cheaper) to install smartphone integration on older cars with aftermarket parts. However, most drivers don’t want to deal with this hassle when this software is already offered on newer cars.
Some Reddit users point out that because the two interfaces are so different, it would be an extensive (and pricey) process to implement the two. Some also think it’s unlikely that Elon would hand over that much control over Tesla’s technology to another company.
Possible competition from Apple
Maybe Elon Musk doesn’t want Apple CarPlay in his cars because he sees the tech giant as a potential rival. Rumors have been circulating for years that Apple wants to develop its own electric vehicle, known as Project Titan, according to Reuters. It would be a passenger car that uses advanced battery technology, with more range and power than existing EVs.
What sort of EV battery technology Apple can develop remains to be seen, but production will supposedly begin in 2024. Apple is one of the most innovative tech companies in the world, but can it surpass Tesla? While Tesla has more cars on the road, Apple’s technology is more popular. People with Apple phones and laptops might be more inclined to buy a vehicle that supports their preferred technology brand.