While Tesla itself has refused to adopt CarPlay over the years, there’s a thriving community of Tesla owners that have taken matters into their own hands. One of the leading projects here is called Tesla Android, an open-source operating system that brings CarPlay and a slew of other features to Tesla cars.
We last wrote about Tesla Android in June 2022, and the project has come a long way since then.
When we covered Tesla Android last year, it was a Raspberry Pi-based solution powered by a custom build of Android. In the year since then, developer Michał Gapiński has made routine updates to Tesla Android with significant improvements.
One of the most notable changes is that Tesla Android now sells a Compute Module 4 Bundle, which packs all of the hardware you need into a single box. This means you no longer have to rely on building your own Raspberry Pi rig to use Tesla Android.
No complex assembly. The bundle arrives preassembled, primed to amplify your Tesla experience right out of the box. With every accessory, from the LTE modem to the CarPlay module, expertly fitted within, it’s as easy as plug and play.
Tesla Android works by broadcasting a Wi-Fi network to which your Tesla connects. Once connected, you can access a wide array of features, including the ability to run every Android app. There’s also native GPS support, which allows you to run the Android version of Waze right on your Tesla’s display.
For iPhone users, however, CarPlay support is the obvious selling point here. A recent firmware update for Tesla Android highlights some significant performance improvements to the experience:
Virtual display module has been updated to take advantage of DMA buffers in the capture pipeline. The new approach lowers the CPU usage by up to 500% and improves performance. Other bugfixes and improvements have been included to enhance stability.
Using CarPlay in your Tesla via this workaround doesn’t interfere with the actual experience of driving. You can still access Tesla’s various driver-assist features, including the “Full Self-Driving” package, if you’re so inclined.
As good as Tesla Android has become over the last year, I still wish Tesla itself would just add CarPlay support. Tesla Android is a workaround, after all, and its implementation of CarPlay is not nearly as seamless of an experience as native CarPlay in a Tesla would be.
Unfortunately, Tesla adopting CarPlay doesn’t seem like something that will happen anytime soon. I’m hoping to get my hands on the Tesla Android Compute Module soon to give this a real-world test in my Model Y. I’m curious to see just how well it stacks up to the native CarPlay experience in my Mach-E.
There are other third-party solutions beyond Tesla Android that bring CarPlay to Tesla vehicles, with varying degrees of success. For example, there are various displays that offer CarPlay but, oftentimes, with a tricky installation process. There are also completely standalone CarPlay displays that can be mounted on your dash.
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…. to be continued
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