Mazda is keeping its promise (sort of) and will enable owners of its 2014 model year and newer vehicles with Mazda Connect infotainment systems to update their vehicles to be compatible with Android Auto and Apple CarPlay. However, if you thought the upgrade was included with the cost of your vehicle (as we did) be prepared for a surprise.
Mazda will update the vehicle, but its dealers will be asking you for $199 plus labor. We called two Boston-area Mazda dealers and received quotes to do the upgrade of $480 and $400. Mazda advises owners who wish to update to budget for two hours of service time to have the upgrade completed. In addition to getting the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay compatibility, owners will get powerful, faster-charging 2.1-amp USB ports in addition to the latest version of MAZDA CONNECT.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay enable a user to access the key features of their smartphones while driving. For example, Google Maps Navigation, Waze Navigation, Pandora, and other highly-rated apps. The apps are fully integrated into the vehicle's sound system and also the screens and Mazda Commander knob.
A study by AAA recently indicated that Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are less distracting to drivers than are the automakers' native systems. So, not only are the apps helpful and satisfying to use, they are also safer.
Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are no cost apps without advertisements that are provided by the phone makers. At the Google Play store, nearly 400,000 users have rated Android Auto 4.2 on the 5-scale.