Following our recent post highlighting the latest features in Tesla Firmware 8.0, we’re back to take a closer look at the pros and cons with its new Media Player.
My favorite feature with the new Media Player is the ability to search for music while still playing your current song. This works in two ways. There’s now a bar for Favorites and Recent which allows you to quickly toggle to each respective list of song selections.
You can swipe left, or right, on the lower bar and pick the next item to play without swapping screens or hiding the current one. The interface is clean and quick.
The other option is to minimize the current played song by swiping downwards and docking it towards the bottom bar. The effect is responsive and natural.
Along with these features to allow for quicker music selection, you can also pick your audio source from the top navigation bar. Users have the ability to choose between Radio, Streaming, Tune In, and beyond.
SEARCHING FOR MEDIA
What Tesla calls the “Browse View” is an all-in-one search that allows you to find music matching your search criteria, in all categories. Here we are searching for Tesla podcasts.
In addition to making the search function more accessible, the feature leads to better discovery for various content types. It’ll search for everything except media store on your USB device.
Beyond the robust search capability, I really like how Tesla organized the information by placing them into categories (ie. Favorites, Top Stations). This makes finding a specific category of content quick and intuitive.
THE LITTLE THINGS
There are a number of smaller improvements which were also nice to see. For example, the adjustment for fade and balance is now one popup instead of the awkward tabbed popup from before.
The new organization for Podcasts is a great improvement, although I find Podcasts to be available on my phone long before they turn up on TuneIn. And for that reason I tend not to use TuneIn for Podcasts.
There really are dozens of small improvements in the Tesla Media Player that improve the overall user experience. Little things like a graphic for thumbs up/down makes if feel more familiar.
Being able to pick my next selection while still seeing and playing my current song is a nice option when I need to find something new, but I find the extra content on the screen, all the time, to be distracting. I usually stick to a playlist until I get tired of it so I don’t need to see those choices all the time.
It would be nice to have an option to only show the currently playing song, hiding or minimizing the quick selections until I ask for them with a quick tap on the screen.
In addition to cluttering the interface, the options displayed are poorly organized. It looks like someone sorted them in the order the media types appear in the menu.
With this approach you get your AM/FM favorites first, then your streaming media favorites etc. While I have AM/FM favorites I rarely listen to them as coverage is poor where I live. So why should I always be presented a list of AM/FM favorites while my songs are playing? I’m never going to choose them.
Tesla’s release notes speaks about putting your favorite stations front and center, but they’re missing the mark in my opinion.
Why didn’t Tesla default to only showing the favorites from the type of media currently playing — so if you’re playing streaming music, they would only show favorites from streaming music, etc. That would make a lot more sense and lead to a better user experience.
On every major software release from Tesla, I get the impression that the software is tested on the bench by software engineers without any practical real-world use. And those owners who are part of the super-secret beta testing group a provide adequate feedback or test enough things for them.
The entertainment experience is all about playing the content. You can put as fancy an interface on it as you want, but if you mess up playing the content you’ve missed the ball. 8.0 does not play content as well as 7.1 did.
My #1 complaint on the entire 8.0 release is the way streaming media fails to resume properly if one were to leave and then return to the car. It seems to happen 100% of the time and the song ends about 30 to 20 seconds short of the actual end of the song.
In other words, you get back in the car, the song resumes (a wonderful feature they’ve had for a long time), plays for a bit then ends abruptly. That’s super-annoying and everyone who rides with you will notice and comment on it.
Tesla had a similar problem like this in the past and fixed it many revisions ago. How this made it through their testing is a mystery and a disappointment.
The USB player has never been a challenge for Tesla. While I’m not in the group of people looking for advanced support of FLAC etc, I do expect that basic things like a USB drive name with spaces in it to render normally, but it doesn’t:
We’re back to some really basic testing. Something like this shouldn’t have made it through their testing. It would appear that the USB ports have not been revised much. You’re also still unable to favorite songs, playlists, folders or anything on the USB drive.
Overall, I like the direction Tesla is heading with the new 8.0 media player. They’ve modernized the interface, added some missing elements and provided new and intuitive ways to access all the various types of media.
Though the new media player is still buggy, and needs to be refined by time and use, Tesla has been faithful in providing continual updates for all Model S and Model X vehicles, and even “classic” Model S owners like myself who are benefitting from the new enhancements. Deeply grateful.