Tesla’s new holiday software update is full of goodies for Tesla owners, but it also has another theme: It’s all about keeping your eyes on the road and your hands on the steering wheel.

When you install Tesla’s new update, the automaker calls it “unwrapping present” since CEO Elon Musk refers to it as a holiday update.

It’s a festive update with two new video games and the TRAX music studio app, but it is also a serious update.

One could even argue that it is a great safety update.

Several of the new features that Tesla is introducing should result in owners having to spend less time interacting with the touchscreen or their phones and more time watching the road.

The most obvious one is the text message reading feature, which was lacking in Tesla vehicles, despite being popular in new cars today.

Now Tesla vehicles are able to read and write text messages through its voice command system:

You can now read and respond to text messages using your right scroll wheel button. When a new message is received press the right scroll wheel button to have your text message read out loud and press again to respond by speaking out loud. You will also be able to view messages as they come in via the ‘Cards’ section of the touchscreen.

Tesla also revamped its voice command system to work better with a natural way of speaking instead of dry commands.

In general, voice commands are a great way to interact with the car while keeping your hands on the wheel and your eyes on the road, but Tesla said that they specifically focused on commands to get people to not have to touch the screen:

For this initial release, we focused on commands that minimize having to touch the screen so you can keep your eyes on the road.

Navigation, media, seat controls, and climate controls can all be controlled through voice command without having to touch the screen.

With the new update, Tesla is also introducing a “Voice Keyboard”:

You can now use dictation to input text in your car. Simply, tap the microphone icon on the keyboard to input text via voice control.

This is also going to result in minimizing screen interaction.

Finally, you don’t even have to touch the screen to save a TeslaCam recording anymore.

You can set it up to activate when honking:

Dashcam can now automatically save clips whenever you honk your car horn to enable tap Controls > Safety & Security > Save Clips on Honk.

Of course, this is not a complete replacement of using the screen to save TeslaCam footage since you shouldn’t honk unless you have to, but it will save a few clicks from some people.

Electrek’s Take

Elon has been talking about making everything inside Tesla vehicles controllable via voice commands.

This looks like the first major update toward that goal, and consequently, the update should help people keep their hands on the steering wheel and their eyes on the road.

It should help with the overall safety of Tesla vehicles although some people argue that any interaction with the car’s systems, even if through voice command, is a distraction.

That’s true, but people will do what people do. It’s nice to at least have the option to go through voice commands if you want, and if feels safer and more convenient for you.

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