Tesla dropped a bombshell announcement recently that has sent shockwaves through the community of Tesla vehicle owners and third-party developers who rely on the Tesla Owners REST API. Tesla has stated that this API, which enables external apps to communicate with Tesla vehicles, will soon be deprecated and stop functioning in Tesla cars.
This infrastructure change has wide-ranging implications, as the REST API has enabled a thriving ecosystem of third-party Tesla apps that owners depend on for enhanced functionality. Apps like Teslascope, Optiwatt, Teslax, TezLab, Stats, and Tessie tap into the REST API to offer features like remote access, location tracking, efficiency analytics, trip planning, and more. For many Tesla fans, these apps are must-haves that augment the ownership experience in major ways.
Teslascope on X/Twitter says: “Teslascope has submitted its request to become an officially recognized third-party app under Tesla’s new developer program.”
Now, with the REST API going offline, these third-party apps face an uncertain future. While Tesla aims to provide an easy transition via an HTTP tunneling server that translates old REST calls into the new end-to-end encrypted system, this still requires developer work. App creators will need to reconfigure their apps to leverage this tunnel as the direct REST API access disappears.
For Tesla owners, this change may only require reauthenticating linked third-party apps after the transition. However, there is no guarantee that all developers will be able to smoothly migrate their apps via the tunneling server. If adaptations prove complicated, once-beloved apps could simply cease to work with Tesla vehicles. This would leave a major functionality gap for owners who have come to depend on these enhancements.
Overall, Tesla’s decision to encrypt vehicle commands is understandable from a security standpoint. Tesla’s tunneling server is intended to prevent outright breaks in functionality.
Rushing the REST API shutdown risks alienating loyal supporters who rely on third-party apps to improve the Tesla experience. While increased security has benefits, disabling beloved apps without ample warning or transition time may do more harm than good. Tesla must tread carefully here to avoid significant backlash from their biggest fans.