Tesla paves the way for third-party apps

Max McDee, 29 June 2023

Tesla's bold move towards third-party app integration marks a significant step forward in user experience and convenience. In an exciting development, the account section in the official Tesla app now includes a fresh segment dedicated to Third Party Apps. Although the feature isn't entirely functional yet, it unveils the promise of an integrated future where Tesla's Supercharger network communicates seamlessly with smartphone apps, even those from rival EV manufacturers.

The move comes on the back of Tesla striking deals with several auto giants, including Ford, General Motors, Rivian, Volvo, and now Polestar, who will gain access to Tesla’s extensive Supercharger network from next year. Consequently, EV owners from these brands will likely need a Tesla account to utilize the 12,000+ Supercharger sites scattered across the United States and Canada.

The integration suggests an enhanced experience akin to logging into your Amazon account using your Apple ID, paving the way for a more streamlined user journey. This progress isn't just limited to supercharging. It also means that third-party services like TeslaFi data logger, which presently taps into the Tesla account via the company's API, will soon have access granted.

New section in Tesla account settings New section in Tesla account settings

Tesla's march towards third-party app support echoes the ease of installing an app from an app store. Typically, users encounter a series of prompts requesting access to various features such as microphone, location data, and call history, instead of providing blanket access to all data.

The concept of a Tesla App Store isn't new; it has been floating around since the launch of the Model S in 2012. Over the years, Tesla has toyed with the idea of releasing a software development kit (SDK) to foster a full-blown third-party app ecosystem on its expansive center touchscreens.

While Tesla did debut an unofficial API for basic third-party apps, it primarily facilitated mobile and browser-based apps rather than a comprehensive SDK. Then in 2016, CEO Elon Musk indicated a shift towards app mirroring from phone to center console, akin to Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto. However, the company maintained control over the user experience within its vehicles, abstaining from integrating third-party infotainment platforms.

Native third-party app support will mean no need for workarounds Native third-party app support will mean no need for workarounds

Tesla's journey towards an app store has seen the introduction of features such as Tesla Theater and Tesla Arcade, hosting streaming apps and video games. Nevertheless, the company works directly with these enterprises to integrate their apps and features, thus maintaining control over its digital ecosystem.

The new third-party app integration move, while not confirming an app store, marks a pivotal moment for Tesla. It suggests the company might officially deploy ways for third-party apps to access Tesla owner data. With millions of vehicles already on the road and an annual capacity of about two million more, it's feasible to envision a vibrant developer community emerging to create innovative third-party apps for Tesla vehicles.

This seismic shift towards Tesla’s NACS connector reflects a collective effort to boost EV adoption. By simplifying user experiences, manufacturers can make EVs not just an alternative but a preferable choice for consumers. As we navigate through this transition, we wait to see how Tesla's leap into third-party app integration shapes the future of EVs and digital convenience.



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