Tesla Releases Update for Vehicle, Powerwall Apps

Tesla has released updates for the mobile apps that provide greater control for its vehicles and Powerwall batteries that add new features and improve functionality.

The Tesla vehicle app has been upgraded to Version 4, which features a redesigned user interface. New features include a streamlined Summon function and ability to send commands to a vehicle immediately upon opening the app, improved phone key support, better access for Supercharger history, and ability to pay a bill for charging. Want some Tesla swag? Tesla added the ability to buy some directly in the app.

Notes on possible future developments for the Tesla vehicle app mention “iOS widget support” and “MacGyver questions in the app,” though details on these possible features are lacking. MacGyver may be a reference to a TV show protagonist who was known for improvising technical solutions for problems with whatever he had on hand.

Powerwall owners now have a new mobile app that makes it easy to go off-grid and use the charge in their Powerwall instead. The new app will enable users to monitor their energy usage, with the option to take a look at a breakdown of their energy usage from Tesla’s solar roofs, Powerwalls, and the energy grid.

This may prove popular for future residents of new developments like an upcoming luxury community in Florida that are opting to add Powerwall batteries and solar rooftops as part of a “quieter” and potentially more environmentally friendly alternative to generators when the power goes out. (And, yes, Elon Musk seems to anticipate that the owners of the new homes will consider Tesla vehicle ownership to be a status symbol. The new homes outfitted with Powerwalls will also have charging ports for Tesla vehicles, lol.) Residents of some states like Texas and California have faced frequent blackouts and brownouts and requests from officials responsible for maintaining the power grid to conserve power when possible.

Although Tesla has delivered record numbers of vehicles in recent quarters, it also seems to be focusing more on the solar energy side of its business, likely in an effort to justify the acquisition of SolarCity. Elon Musk has recently faced a lawsuit from investors who alleged that the acquisition amounted to a bailout of his cousins. SolarCity had been a major money sink at the time.

The updates to the apps could be seen as preparation for components of Elon Musk’s “master plan” for Tesla. Tesla is currently recruiting Powerwall owners in California and Australia for a “virtual power plant” project in which Powerwall owners can send energy to the grid during peak hours. It also recently sent an application to the Texas Public Utility Commission to become a retail provider of electricity that can make use of its Megapack batteries.

Tesla is also preparing to open up its proprietary Superchargers to electric vehicles made by other automakers. This move is likely to require the owners of other electric vehicles to obtain an adapter for their vehicles’ charging ports until and unless Tesla retrofits the Superchargers for this purpose.