The latest software update for Tesla vehicles brings a new feature called Sentry Mode Live Camera Access and allows users to see a live camera feed of their car’s surroundings on their phone, giving them some peace of mind that their car is safe. The new feature is an upgrade for Sentry Mode, which allows the onboard cameras to keep an eye on the car’s surroundings when it is parked and sends an alert when it detects a threat.
When Sentry Mode detects something suspicious in its proximity, it automatically starts recording a video and activates the alarm system as well. Sentry Mode can also be activated remotely using the companion phone app. The cameras are always-on, but they only save footage in case of a serious threat. There have been multiple instances in the past where Sentry Mode has thwarted theft attempts and allowed users to track their cars.
With the latest Tesla software update, Sentry Mode is getting even better. The update (version 2021.36.8) adds Sentry Mode Love Camera Access and the ability to see a live view of the car’s surroundings remotely using the mobile app. As a safety measure, Tesla says that the live feed is end-to-end encrypted, which means only users can see it. In simple terms, end-to-end encryption ensures that data is encrypted at its origin and can only be decrypted at the destination, stopping anyone from reading the data midway. Apps like WhatsApp rely on it to make tall claims about privacy, and it is generally considered to be the most secure communication protocol that can currently be deployed on a consumer product.
To enable Tesla’s new Sentry Mode Live Camera Access, the user will need to follow this path in the mobile app: Controls > Safety & Security. Once it has been activated, users will be able to access the live camera feed and ensure that their car is parked safely. However, the feature is currently exclusive to the iOS app running version 4.2.1 or later, and there is no official word as to when it will arrive on the Tesla mobile app for Android devices. The aforementioned feature first popped up as a rumor last year.
There’s also another caveat. The new Sentry Mode Live Access tool is only available for Tesla car owners with a Premium Connectivity subscription. This is priced at $9.99 per month and can be purchased using the mobile app or by accessing one’s Tesla account on the web. The service allows users access to exclusive features such as satellite-view maps, live traffic visualization, music streaming, internet browser, video streaming, and karaoke among others. Lastly, Tesla CEO Elon Musk also thinks the new Sentry Mode Live Camera Access feature is good for practical jokes too. Of course, not all of Tesla’s camera features have been embraced with open arms, as experts have previously expressed concern over in-car cameras monitoring too much.