PASADENA, California — Great news for smartphone users: Android Auto and Apple CarPlay are standard on all 2018 Mazda6 trims save for the Sport models. For those, you’ll have to pay up but pricing for the upgrade hasn’t been announced yet.
Matthew Valbuena, Mazda Human Machine Interface (HMI) engineer, gave us the details on the rest of the 2018 Mazda6’s latest in-vehicle technology.
“So when the driver gets into the vehicle and starts the car they’re greeted by three different displays. One is the Active Driving Display that is now on the windshield,” Valbuena tells us.
“The previous generation Mazda6 used a combiner light, it’s a little plastic lens that folded up from the gauge cluster. We’ve moved that away and broadcast information directly on the windshield so that the data falls farther away from the driver’s eye, which minimizes the focus time.”
This helps keep your eyeballs on the road—where they should be. The Signature trim level also receives a new reconfigurable 7.0-inch Thin Film Transistor (TFT) gauge display and a 360-degree View Monitor with front and rear parking sensors. The other visual change is with the Mazda Connect display itself—now a larger 8.0-inch screen.
“If I was to plug in the USB cable to this Android device and go to the home menu a Android Auto icon will appear in the top left. I can access Android Auto a couple of ways but the quickest and easiest way is a long press of the home button and it switches the user interface from the Mazda Connect native UI to the Android Auto user interface,” Valbuena demonstrates.
Sitting inside the sedan is the best way to experience the interface’s ease of use. Mazda Connect’s commander knob is handy, too.
“I can use the commander knob to scroll and pick different elements, but the cool thing is with the Mazda Connect hard keys, I can use shortcuts to quickly go back and forth between the native content and the smartphone-based content.”
The easiest way to use Apple CarPlay or Android Auto is by pressing the voice recognition button to find the nearest Starbucks or whatever you are looking for. The system uses your phone’s voice assistant, disabling the Mazda Connect voice recognition whenever your device is connected.
“And the results will be delivered through the CarPlay or Android Auto interface,” adds Valbuena.
“But everything is accessible directly using the commander and, again, switching back and forth is just a long press of the home button if you want to multitask between the native tasks and the smartphone tasks.”
Sound easy? It really is and once you get used to having it it’s hard going back. While the 2018 Mazda6 is already on sale, Mazda says the Android Auto and Apple CarPlay upgrade will be available starting in June. Those already driving a 2018 Mazda6 Touring or higher will be able to take their sedan to the dealer for a free retrofit.