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Tesla CEO Says Model S Will Support Third-Party Apps 103

Posted by timothy
from the don't-leave-the-updating-to-at&t-please dept.
thecarchik writes "The electric-car maker's CEO said at a conference today in San Francisco that the much-hyped Model S electric sedan will support third-party apps and text-to-voice capabilities. With its large 17-inch touchscreen console, car fans and investors have long suspected that third-party apps might be part of the Model S plan, but Wednesday's announcement was the first acknowledgement from Musk that the company is courting a developer community."
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Tesla CEO Says Model S Will Support Third-Party Apps

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  • Yes, but... (Score:1, Interesting)

    by abednegoyulo (1797602)

    does it run Linux?

  • And... (Score:3, Insightful)

    by systematical (1394991) on Friday March 18, 2011 @12:02AM (#35526044) Homepage
    computer car viruses were born.
    • This is a very dangerous possibility if this computer has any sort of connection with the microprocessors controlling mechanical parts of the car.
    • There is a current vulnerability where a specially crafted MP3 file can run arbitrary code in the car's player, and since some of them now have access to the general CAN bus, the possibilities are huge. Cars can be hacked with music [hackaday.com].

  • by Sanity (1431) on Friday March 18, 2011 @12:07AM (#35526080) Homepage Journal
    Why are they coming up with their own operating system and app ecosystem, is this really the core competency of a car company? Why aren't they using Android, which already has text to voice, voice to text, GPS navigation, and almost everything else you might need in a car?
    • by ashvagan (885082)
      because it's more ... secure?
    • by eln (21727) on Friday March 18, 2011 @12:26AM (#35526178) Homepage
      I agree with your assertion that developing their own app ecosystem is the wrong approach, but I disagree with your conclusion. In my mind, trying to transform an electric car into basically a smart phone on wheels is a horrible idea, and their approach (much like your "use Android" solution) is simply wrong-headed.

      At this stage, the aim of electric cars should be proving that they are a viable alternative to gasoline-powered cars, at least following the 80/20 rule. Getting sidetracked by bells and whistles now is counterproductive. Tesla should be concentrating on making a car that's capable of serving at least 80% of the needs a standard sedan meets (short trips, daily commutes, cruise control, capable of seating 5, etc) while costing at best a small premium over gasoline-powered competitors. Encouraging the development of apps that will draw power and reduce the range or carrying capacity of the vehicle is silly.

      At this point, consumers interested in electric cars, outside of the rich folks who are looking to buy Tesla's roadster model, only really want to know that an electric car can handle their daily needs without running out of juice and that it won't cost a fortune. Giving it the ability to play Angry Birds is simply a distraction.
      • by bussdriver (620565) on Friday March 18, 2011 @12:53AM (#35526322)

        They are working on the car, this is a side thing that will bring in things from the outside. You can't work on the car but you could add cool things to it and contribute to it in that way. It also means they may have some great new ideas that SELL the car to people who are less interested in going green. If they get a community going around this aspect they can free up resources.... like if the linux people take over the system and save MS taxes so later the smaller car can be cheaper.

        Its not just about batteries - which they don't do - its about getting an affordable CAR that people can buy and actually drive. It has to be expensive, so they went with the high end sports car and now they've worked down to the expensive car next they can work down to a mid-level car. Its harder to get the cheap affordable car so their approach to appeal to the top and work down is a WISE MOVE and helps dispel the myths of electric that have been around for so long. The sports car did a great job showing all that PR was lies- the problem is range but they don't have to be weak ugly little cars like the stereotype. This is just a step towards an electric we can all afford (pending battery tech which isn't really their thing.)

        The average American need more than just a smart electric car like the Aptera - sure they don't ACTUALLY need more most of the time but the problem is that they don't believe that.

        • like if the linux people take over the system and save MS taxes so later the smaller car can be cheaper.

          One tank of fuel's worth of cost difference on a $50,000 car is hardly a big deal.. I don't see why they'd go with MS on this anyway.

          • MS likes to give stuff away create an addiction then charge you after you are hooked. There are a lot of cars out there for them to infect and HARM like they did with the computer industry for decades.

            Last thing I want is another monopoly jumping to support the record industry when they bitch about public performances when my radio is too loud or I have > 3 people in the car or whatever crazy things they want to impose upon me.

            An open system means cool hacks, cool software on your EXISTING car computer -

        • by Illicon (1588477)

          I'm confused a little about the whole motivation behind electric cars. Maybe someone with a little more knowledge on the subject can fill me in.

          I like the idea of eliminating or at least reducing our dependence on foreign oil for political purposes. I'm not so sure I like the idea of replacing our petroleum-based transportation with what will essentially be coal-based transportation. I personally don't think there's much we can do about global warming, and I'll admit I'm not 100% convinced that we're even

          • Maybe AGW fanatics also support nuclear generation of electricity?

            • by Illicon (1588477)

              Bingo! ...and I do as well.

              The problem is that not all AGW fanatics support nuclear energy. In fact, I would wager that most don't, and this will worsen in the coming months. Some seem to think that by driving an electric vehicle they are helping reduce greenhouse emissions, but in most areas, they aren't. In reality, they are contributing more. Electric cars will not help reduce greenhouse emissions until coal use is significantly reduced. Solar and wind will help a small amount, but electric cars and nucl

              • Hydro, solar, wind, wave and geothermal already account for 45% of our electricity here in Portugal. Of course we pay heavily for that, with one of the highest electricity rates in the EU, in a country with one of the lowest average wages.
                The lack of competition in the distribution to residences doesn't help:|

                • By the way, we pay heavily for that because for now the government is subsidizing the construction of wind farms, solar panels, etc.

                  Supposedly we should pay less in the future; but with the way the economy is going, we'll be bankrupt before that.

          • by tlhIngan (30335)

            I like the idea of eliminating or at least reducing our dependence on foreign oil for political purposes. I'm not so sure I like the idea of replacing our petroleum-based transportation with what will essentially be coal-based transportation. I personally don't think there's much we can do about global warming, and I'll admit I'm not 100% convinced that we're even causing it. That being said, from the perspective of a AGW fanatic, wouldn't this switch from gas to coal be undesirable?

            How about we ask the ot

            • by Illicon (1588477)
              Peak efficiency or not, gasoline is much cleaner to burn than coal. You can clean up coal plants all you want, but you can't change that. By trading your internal combustion engine for a car that runs on electricity produced by burning coal, you are making the situation worse.
        • by cthulhu11 (842924)
          You totally don't understand Tesla's target market, do you?
      • Encouraging the development of apps that will draw power and reduce the range or carrying capacity of the vehicle is silly.
        What's silly is having so little numeracy and common sense to think that even a 100 W touch screen computer (10× the power draw of the iPad power supply) will affect the power and range of an EV with a 42 kWh (or larger) battery pack and probably a 185,000 Watt motor.

      • by wamatt (782485) *

        Getting sidetracked by bells and whistles now is counterproductive. Tesla should be concentrating on making a car that's capable of serving at least 80% of the needs a standard sedan meets (short trips, daily commutes, cruise control, capable of seating 5, etc) while costing at best a small premium over gasoline-powered competitors. Encouraging the development of apps that will draw power and reduce the range or carrying capacity of the vehicle is silly.

        Your argument assumes that adding bells and whistles can not be done in parallel to making an awesome electric vehicle. Why is it one or the other?

        The second assumption I think is false is that the Tesla "ipad" will draw more than just a neglible amount (comparatively) of electric energy to operate. I don't think 1 app or 20 apps is going to make the slightest difference to the the amount of miles it can drive.

    • by Anonymous Coward

      I'll draw flak for this, but under no circumstances do I want my car running Linux, Unix, Windows (CE), or iOS. No, even Linux is not reliable enough for my car... sorry.

      You know what, let me put that another way. I don't want my car to run any type of general-purpose or consumer operating system (including Tesla's). Apps can DIAF.

      - Cue the queue of luddite accusations.

      • It's just the entertainment console, not the part that makes the tires move when you hit the gas. Don't worry about it.

      • Given the size it'll probably be a multi-function display, so it'll interface with the system CANbus (or fiber, or whatever it uses). If it does that, it should be at least MISRA certified and/or perhaps even DO-178B/C/D certified depending on the impact. Fortunately there are embedded COTS solutions that met these MISRA and/or DO-178x specs... so it doesn't have to be custom, and it doesn't have to be consumer spec.

    • by c0lo (1497653) on Friday March 18, 2011 @12:50AM (#35526306)

      Why aren't they using Android, which already has text to voice, voice to text, GPS navigation, and almost everything else you might need in a car?

      Or, at the very least, have the "Other OS" option enabled! WTF? Do I own the car or not?

      Also, don't they see that they are destroying the "car analogy" meme? I wonder how the /. editors can't see the impact this is going to have on the slashvertising business.

      </sarcasm>

    • is this really the core competency of a car company?

      If you are asking can car companies do software, the answer is absolutely yes. Modern cars are loaded with software and every major car company has to be good at it. HOWEVER, the car companies are not very good at the sort of software you find in consumer electronics. Their development cycles are too slow, volumes are too low and their costs are too high to play in that space.

      Ford actually did something pretty smart with their Sync platform and (finally) realized that they just need to provide an interfa

    • Back in 2009, RoundArch blog [roundarch.com] said "The Tesla Model S – Touch-Screen User Experience is Powered by Roundarch’s Merapi project [merapiproject.net] ...
      Roundarch’s Merapi is a revolutionary solution for bridging traditional desktop and Web technologies, ... [Merapi gives] Access to hardware devices: Browser-based technologies (Adobe Flash, Microsoft Silverlight, AJAX) previously did not have native access to hardware other than microphone and Web cam."
      "Merapi is a technology that can be used as a messag

      • Ah, it's using Flash and Silverlight and has an internet connection. At least it will be secure!

  • by Anonymous Coward

    I hope the computer systems that run the engine, wheels, and steering, are not networked into the entertainment console. Someone will just need to install a virus into the console, and then boom, steering freezes up and everyone dies.
     
      Also, a 17 inch screen in the center console is just asking for a distracted death. Knobs are a far better interface when driving, buttons are the second best, touchscreens are probably awful.

    • by cgenman (325138)

      Most GPS devices are touchscreen based. Anywhere that you have an abstracted interface that can change, knobs and buttons don't work. You have to look at the screen. At least with touchscreens you can just poke at what you're not supposed to be paying attention to.

      On a side note, I'd love it if the engine, wheels, steering, etc was modifiable. Software mods of existing cars are a common way of boosting performance. You'd probably want standards, a whole lot of vetting, and a great fallback system. But

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        But downloadable softmods to tune ride characteristics would be amazing.

        Yes!!! Wonderful, can't expect to plug in my own heuristic algo to control the debit from the NOS bottles!

      • Anywhere that you have an abstracted interface that can change, knobs and buttons don't work.

        The folks at BMW disagree with you. You may or may not like their IDrive system (personally I like it) but it's designed explicitly to not require a touch screen. Reason being is that the act of moving your finger at arms length to a specific point on a screen with no tactile feedback requires a dangerous amount of attention from your eyes. You cannot help but be distracted for a scary amount of time. With the controls in the BMW you can navigate the system with much shorter spans of distraction. The q

        • You are not supposed to use the touchscreen while driving.

          • You've never used a Kenwood high end system. It's all about the touchscreen for selecting everything except volume. And, yes, it's stupid.

  • Now we can have viruses that not only steal your data but steal your car as well.
  • The Tesla S. We must do TORCS to it.
    Yesssssssssss.

  • Great (Score:4, Interesting)

    by mccalli (323026) on Friday March 18, 2011 @12:27AM (#35526180) Homepage
    There was a poll some time ago, must admit can't remember if slashdot or reddit, about the most overpriced piece of technology you use.

    My answer would be car-related. From the ludicrous stereo to the 50p light snesing diode that seems to translate to hundreds of pounds when translated into the phrase "automatic headlights", in-car tech is ripe for commoditisation. An open platform will do wonders for this, even if 'open' isn't the libre definition but simply a published API.

    Cheers,

    Ian
    • by whoever57 (658626)

      My answer would be car-related. From the ludicrous stereo to the 50p light snesing diode that seems to translate to hundreds of pounds when translated into the phrase "automatic headlights", in-car tech is ripe for commoditisation.

      You don't really think that the car manufacturer actually pays anything like those prices, do you? The manufacturer is paying pennies, but charges many dollars for these items (especially if you are buying the parts as replacements).. Those options prices and spare part prices

      • by mccalli (323026)
        "You don't really think that the car manufacturer actually pays anything like those prices, do you? "

        Not in the slightest, no. They're likely paying less than the 50p I could buy it at myself at an electronics store. Yet they charge me hundreds extra for something that was commodity back in the 80s when I was learning how to code.

        In-car tech is a serious, serious rip-off.

        Cheers,
        Ian
        • by adolf (21054)

          Depends on the tech.

          Let me just pick an example. (I'll use a car analogy.)

          A premium factory sound system might be $1,500. It will be well-integrated into a modern car: The speaker grills will match the interior, the lighting will match other electronic stuff in the car, and it will function with steering wheel/rear seat controls or voice command or whatever other gee-whiz functions the car happens to have.

          Can you buy a better audio system for $1,500? Sure, no problem. Will it integrate well? Probably

          • Let me just pick an example. (I'll use a car analogy.) A premium factory sound system might be $1,500. It will be well-integrated into a modern car: The speaker grills will match the interior, the lighting will match other electronic stuff in the car, and it will function with steering wheel/rear seat controls or voice command or whatever other gee-whiz functions the car happens to have.
            Seeing as how most of the labor cost of an install goes into tearing the car apart to put that shit in, then it's not r
            • by adolf (21054)

              It is applicable to me, the consumer: It can cost me $1,500 now, or $1,500 later. In the former case, I (again, the consumer) get a warranty and never miss a day without my new car.

              In the latter, I spend the same money, may or may not get a reasonable warranty with it, will lose at least a few hours or a couple of days of use for my new car, and may spend the rest of my term with that car wondering why things don't integrate as well as they should.

              Obviously, it's cheaper for Ford (or whoever) to do this w

          • by whoever57 (658626)

            What's your point? All you have shown is that it would cost you, the buyer a lot to get that fancy tech from another source. So what?

            Look at a plastic molding. Imagine how much it would cost your to get a plastic molding that wasn't made by the normal manufacturer of said part.

            The point that you have completely missed is that the cost to the manufacturer is far, far less than the price paid by the end user, when buying the parts individually. This is tru for just about anything on a car, even if generic pa

    • the most overpriced piece of technology you use.

      Easy - text messaging. Cost per megabyte is absolutely astronomical while the actual cost to the telecom provider is a good approximation of zero. Costs them more to bill you for the text message than they likely spend delivering it.

      My vote for second most overpriced is inkjet printer ink. Costs more per ounce than human blood.

      From the ludicrous stereo to the 50p light snesing diode that seems to translate to hundreds of pounds when translated into the phrase "automatic headlights", in-car tech is ripe for commoditisation.

      My company makes wire harnesses and other auto electronics and I'm both the accountant and the engineer. These parts are not as cheap as you think they are, particularly when you

      • by deathcow (455995) *

        > Costs them more to bill you for the text message than they likely spend delivering it.

        Yes, but only if you ignore the costs of -- Cell towers. Antennas. Radios. Packet Control Units. Amplifiers. Receivers. Transcoders. Mobile Switching Centers. Private Lines over SONET rings. Fiber optics equipment. Racks of GSM base station blades. Switch software licenses and support contracts to people like Ericsson. WAP headcount licenses. Software licenses. More software licenses. And also the salaries of network

        • okay so if you are going to charge everything and part of the cost of SMS then you need to figure out what fraction of everything is actually used by SMS as apposed to phone calls and other data.

          if its found out that 99.99999% of the cost is taken up by everything else then yes it could cost them more to bill you for a given message than it does to actually handle the message.

          • by NoseyNick (19946)
            To put this in context... a voice call is equivalent to about 450 SMS messages PER MINUTE. Tell me how much you pay per voice minute... then tell me how much you pay for 450 SMS messages.
  • Throw on Android, and hardware restrict ALL on-board electronics to be output readings only (current speed, fuel economy, GPS coordinates, temperature readings, etc.) We don't need some jackass rooting his car and disabling the power steering at 88 mph.
    • 88 MPH? What if the fools manage to channel a gigawatt of power into their flux capacitor? THIS MUST BE STOPPED! The grandfather paradox! ALL OF OUR LIVES ARE MOOT IF THIS TECHNOLOGY SUCCEEDS.
  • You should have the right to repair your own car and not have to go to the dealer to read out some codes / reset stuff. Any car shop should be able to get the software / hardware needed to fix cars and not have it be locked to the dealer.

  • Now imagine a Beowulf cluster of these...

  • by Anonymous Coward

    As a cyclist I look forward to a silent car where the driver is distracted by apps.

    • Also as a cyclist, I hate to break it to you: they're already here. most of the new cars I see can't be heard over the wind unless they're rolling, and the drivers have smartphones...

  • MINI offers something called MINI Connected, which is a system that has a screen in a car, and an application (Android and iPhone) that once hooked to the car, can display or record all kinds of information.

    The interesting thing is that there's also been at least one third party application announced (I forget the name, some network radio company) that when linked into the MINI, detects the system and takes advantage of the in-dash screen, and even more importantly the control knob that you use to move thro

  • Or can I download my apps from the Chinese store of my choice?
  • by c0lo (1497653) on Friday March 18, 2011 @12:53AM (#35526320)
    Guys, I really don't get it. Can someone post a "car analogy" for me, please?
    • Yo dawg, I heard you like cars, so we put a car in your computer so you can drive while you compute!

      • by c0lo (1497653)

        Yo dawg, I heard you like cars, so we put a car in your computer so you can drive while you compute!

        But does this car have valves [valvesoftware.com] or is it steam powered [steampowered.com]? What about the car's specific impulse [impulsedriven.com]?

  • by Animats (122034) on Friday March 18, 2011 @01:08AM (#35526384) Homepage

    Or "apps". Too much "head down" time.

    I don't want drivers looking at a screen instead of the road. They should be driving, not playing Angry Birds. At least until self-driving car technology is deployed.

    • by Elbereth (58257)

      I doubt it's much worse than people messing with the stereo or trying to read maps. Both are extremely frustrating to see in other drivers, but it's not like this is the first time that someone in a car has had the potential to be distracted by shiny toys. Anyways, it's probably more for the benefit of the passenger than the driver. I've often thought that such technology was long due, and I welcome the future. Plus, if millions of people end up dead on the highways, the free market will surely solve th

      • One of the best features in modern cars are stereo controls on the steering wheel. I never look down at the stereo as my thumb fiddles through the stations or iterates over a MP3 CD. Also, I have to give Toyota some credit in the Camry interior design. When I first bought my Camry I thought their clock placement was really odd and stupid. I thought, "Why is the clock so far forward in the dash by the windshield?! It doesn't seem natural". Well, it turns out I was just used to other cars with the clock down
    • At least until self-driving car technology is deployed

      There's an app for that.

      • There's an app for that.

        Why else is Google testing driverless vehicles, you think? It's not like they're a car company, and when you consider that a cutting-edge smartphone has number crunching capabilities far surpassing the guidance systems in the space shuttle...

  • put it on blocks (Score:4, Insightful)

    by dltaylor (7510) on Friday March 18, 2011 @05:19AM (#35527402)

    Although my wife's Jaguar has a touchscreen, it is surrounded by controls for the most commonly used features (knob for audio volume, buttons for source select and program advance/rewind, touch-identifiable for temp/fan/defrost climate controls). Only infrequently used controls and the nav system need the touchscreen, and the nav system is never used (despite buying a map update) except by out-of-town visitors, and they get voice directions once I program the destination in the driveway. The most-used control on the touchscreen is the one that sets the display to the Jaguar logo, since it defaults to the main menu unless you had one of the other subsystems up when the car was shut down.

    The electro-stoners that are busy running through the menus on their no-knob stereos and touch screen systems are as bad as any substance abusers. Confiscate their wheels and put their cars on blocks, so they can play in their living rooms without menacing the rest of us.

  • Yeah so a motion sensor jiggly boob app. No, really, Officer.

  • Lots of predictable comments about the safety implications but I'm surprised nobody has questioned the sensibility of adding an unnecessary power consuming device to an electric vehicle.
  • Cars, like computers, are all about add-ons. For regular cars, it is about the motor, etc. With electric cars, you do not have that. Now, Tesla is enlisting the geek world. Real smart on their part.

    They made one big mistake. They should create a special plug for the rear of these cars, along with a hitch. That way, trailers can be added to give distances. The hitch should provide not just communications, but most importantly, it should allow for enough DC to run the car, or at least charge it to some larg
    • by WorBlux (1751716)
      The only place I've heard of putting the engine in the trailer is a few of the biogas cars, where the biogas generator was pulled as a trailer and the gas was piped into the engine to provide fuel. So there is precedent, but I'm still skeptical that such a design would see mass market applications.
  • * Flash headlights in sync to music

    * Make beeping noise when reversing

    * Transform into an autobot

  • Can't wait to jailbreak it and start developing apps! Just think of the possibilities ....

    *Automatically slow to the speed limit when coming up on a speed trap
    *image processing app to detect police cruisers using the back-up camera
    *ParallelParkMe
    *IPhone Remote Control (for easy ghost riding)

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