Mazda has begun offering its long-anticipated Apple CarPlay and Android Auto upgrade for existing cars, offering drivers a straightforward way to bring the smartphone projection tech into their current vehicle. While the automaker began offering both Apple and Google’s systems in its most recent models earlier this year in other markets, it also bucked auto industry trends by promising an upgrade route that didn’t involve buying a whole new car.
While it may have been slow to join the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay party, therefore, Mazda’s approach has been far more flexible than that of most of its rivals. Typically, CarPlay and/or Android Auto are added as a cost-upgrade to new vehicles. Even if the infotainment system is unchanged in hardware from that of previous model year cars, automakers are generally loath to retroactively add it.
Not so Mazda. Its upgrade will add both Apple and Google’s systems to model year 2014 or newer vehicles – which means cars sold all the way back to 2013, in fact – as long as they’re equipped with the Mazda Connect infotainment system. Unfortunately it’s not just a case of installing new software.
Instead, the upgrade package is a dealer-installed update. That’s because it involves both hardware and software, Mazda explains, in order to enable CarPlay and Android Auto. As a useful side-benefit, it will also leave those with the upgrade with a boosted, 2.1 amp USB port for swifter charging of the connected smartphone, together with the newest version of the Mazda Connect software.