Tesla’s Holiday Update software includes a noisy and controversial new feature

Get ready for Teslas to make some weird new noises as they roll by you on the street.

Nick Miotke/Roadshow

Just in time for Christmas morning, Tesla’s 2020 Holiday Update, Firmware 2020.48.25 has arrived, and in addition to some expected fun new features, Elon Musk and Co. have rolled out a brace of user experience changes, more games and some helpful upgraded visualizations. One particular new feature, however, is likely to be a bit controversial — and not just for Tesla owners.

Even if you don’t actually drive a Tesla, you may soon be on the receiving end of features enabled by the update’s new “Boombox” mode, which allows Tesla drivers to customize their Model S, Model X, Model 3 or Model Y‘s horn. That’s right, you can now make your Tesla’s horn honk sound like a goat, applause, La Cucaracha or a fart, among a range of other sound effects. You can even add up to five custom sounds of your own using a USB key. The user-selected sound plays after the conventional horn honk. Musk himself touted the sound-effect upgrade on his Twitter account Friday afternoon:

Boombox also enables your Tesla to make different EV in-motion driving sounds, whether you’re behind the wheel or your vehicle is being parked or pulled around in Summon mode. In other words, it probably won’t be long until you’re walking on the street and hear an approaching Star Wars TIE fighter or Clydesdale, only to turn around and realize it’s someone rolling by in a Model Y. While we can see this feature being momentarily amusing for Tesla owners and bystanders, it’s also easy to anticipate Boombox quickly becoming annoying or distracting to pedestrians, cyclists and other motorists.

In order to take full advantage of Boombox mode, your Tesla will need to be a newer model equipped with an external speaker. It’s also important to note that the Boombox feature comes with a on-screen caveat to “please check local laws before use in public spaces.” If you want to check out the update and hear all the new sound effects for yourself, the Tesla Owners Online YouTube channel has a solid walk-through of the update that you can watch below:

Boombox is located in the infotainment system’s Toybox menu, which also houses the system’s many games. A trio of new games, including The Battle of PolytopiaCat Quest and Solitaire, the latter of which some Tesla owners are reporting is usable while the car is in motion (presumably for the passenger’s benefit) on Reddit.

In more sober but substantive developments, the Holiday Update includes updated driving visualizations that support Tesla’s optional Full-Self Driving technology. (Obligatory Roadshow safety note: Despite the misleading name, Tesla does not yet offer autonomous driving technology.) The new visualizations should give the driver a clearer look at what’s going on around their vehicle when the tech is active, and other features have been moved around on the screen for easier access, including the one-touch access to the backup camera and wipers.

Improvements have also been made to the system’s Scheduled Departure feature, which can now precondition a vehicle’s cabin and battery even when unplugged, as well as a rationalized menu displaying Supercharger information.

Tesla’s Firmware 2020.45.25 Holiday Update is rolling out to owners of the company’s entire family of electric cars and SUVs nationwide via over-the-air update right now. 

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