A deep dive into the Kontrol app for Tesla
FYI, this story is more than a year old
Article by Rae Steinbach
Tesla is often praised for manufacturing vehicles that are better for the environment than most cars. While that’s a good reason to admire the company, it isn’t the only one. Drivers also want vehicles that are safe, comfortable, and loaded with useful features.
Tesla aims to embody these values, which is what inspired them to develop the Kontrol for Tesla app. This native app design for mobile devices expands on the features of the current Tesla app. On top of that, it’s free.
Tesla, like other tech companies, always seems to strike the balance between pleasing design and practical functionality. Kontrol for Tesla’s design was clearly inspired by these values. Featuring sleek, clean visuals, the app mirrors the aesthetic qualities of a Tesla Model S.
Start with an in-depth look at the UI. It doesn’t feature many bright, garish visuals. Instead, the simple colour palette and clean lines reflect the aesthetics of Tesla’s vehicles. The UI for this type of app should allow users to quickly see and digest important information. In fact, the design is very similar to that of an efficient vehicle dashboard.
A pleasing UI isn’t worth much if the app doesn’t offer useful functionality. Luckily, Kontrol for Tesla offers all the features currently available on the Tesla app. It’s easy to switch over from the current Tesla app without losing any of the information or features that Users have already grown accustomed to. Major functions the new Kontrol for Tesla app preserve include the following:
- Checking charging progress in real-time.
- Changing vehicle temperature before driving.
- Locating vehicle and tracking its movement.
- Flashing lights/honking horn, when you can’t find your Tesla in the parking lot.
- Venting or closing the panoramic roof.
- Locking or unlocking the vehicle.
The new app also provides extra features, including:
- Starting your car with Touch ID, instead of typing in your password every time.
- Smart Climate functions that allow you to warm up your vehicle to the precise desired temperature before you leave the house.
- Using 3D Touch or the widget to honk the horn, unlock the vehicle, or check battery status without having to open the app.
- Smart venting the vehicle when it gets too hot.
Obviously, security is extremely important when using an app that controls your vehicle. To ensure your data is as safe as possible, Kontrol for Tesla doesn’t store your user credentials, like your username and password. Instead, that information remains stored on Apple’s iOS Secure Keychain. That means the data can’t be accessed via other apps on your phone.
Unless the app is communicating directly with Tesla’s API Server, it won’t use your credentials when communicating with Kontrol for Tesla’s server. It doesn’t even save or store user credentials when the app is running. Also, the app relies on Touch ID authentication before accessing your credentials from the iOS Secure Keychain.
Kontrol for Tesla adheres to the practice of using Apple Transport Security, a new requirement for iOS 9.0 that ensures all client-server communication is made securely through HTTPS protocols.
When the app does communicate directly with Tesla’s API Server, the server provides a certificate for the app to verify. Kontrol for Tesla take the following steps to ensure its validity:
- The app confirms the certificate was signed by a Certificate Authority.
- It makes sure the certificate contains the Tesla API domain in the response.
- Once these steps are validated, the app matches the server-provided certificate with the one stored in the app.
- For jailbroken devices, use of the app is prevented until a user’s credentials, session token, and local preferences have been verified.
Towards the Future
This is only the first iteration of Kontrol for Tesla. Its developers have already announced plans to offer even more features in the years to come. For instance, a future release may allow users to track personal vs. business miles when driving a Tesla. This could save both individuals and organisations a lot of money.
Article by Rae Steinbach