(… and Android Auto on Samsung A52 / Android 11)
The Mazda Connect Navigation System on my 2019 Mazda 2 1.5L A/T Hatchback stopped functioning this year (2021). I cannot remember exactly when or which month, but it was definitely closer to its 2nd periodic maintenance schedule (PMS) which happens in the middle of each year. It just suddenly failed to work one day, and kept on flashing “Invalid Card” on the head unit whenever I started the car.
This wasn’t really a deal breaker for me. At first. I have noticed that in the almost 2 years I’ve been riding Ruby (as I like to call her), the navigation map sometimes fails to read the card correctly. It was a rare event, but happen it did. The quick solution was to restart the car. Or I’d just ignore it and the issue would go away on my next drive.
I was not in a hurry to to go back to my local Mazda dealer and get it checked too. But I was wondering a bit. Did the SD card get damaged? Is the navigation system malfunctioning? Since the next PMS was only weeks away, I chose to wait it out. Not without asking my favorite Mazda dealer first if they can do something about it, via email. The response was that their system to update the navigation map was not working at the time.
Besides, there is always Waze on my Android phone. I’ve heavily relied on Waze app to navigate Metro Manila’s intricate and traffic-heavy roads ever since I started driving here. I could also use Android Auto for Phone Screens. The 2019 Mazda 2, unfortunately, did not come with THE Android Auto installed and integrated in its system despite it being compatible. And mine being a “premium edition”, I don’t know why they could not have thrown that in there by default. The time I bought Ruby, I wasn’t so worried about that aspect though.
What I’ve Experienced the Mazda Navigation System Do
While I wasn’t a heavy user of the turn-by-turn built-in navigation system, I did use it. I found it enough for my needs especially when I don’t have data on my phone. The street map is pretty accurate. At least for the routes that I took within Metro Manila. I don’t know if it had the feature to get live traffic updates or factor that in going from point to point (I doubt that. Maybe historical data?). It adjusts when I miss my turn as expected. Real-time position updates of your car on which street you’re at in the head unit map display, of course. Searching places to go to is easy. There are several search options available. So far when I was using it, I can always find the places that I wanted to go to. Nearest points, landmarks where possible.
Navigation also comes in the Heads-UP Display (HUD) and voice guidance. On the HUD it shows me how far the next turn is, to either go left or right with arrows. For those not familiar, the HUD is different from the car head unit. It is the display that is mounted on the dashboard directly in front of the driver when the car is turned on. Comes out automatically, and folds down when the car is off. It’s small and not distracting. Kinda stays in the driver’s vision without getting in the way.
What Other Mazda Owners Had To Say
In the meantime, I looked up this issue with the SD card on the Internet to see if it was something other Mazda owners were also experiencing. I found lots of references and different feedback. Some say the navigation maps data had to be renewed periodically – supposedly every 3 years. The update is not for free. Others say you can DIY. I found the Mazda Update Toolbox Windows application by NNG LLC. It looks legit. Not certain if they’re the official contractors for Mazda Navigation software, but a quick Google seems to support that. I tried updating using the SD card that came with Ruby. Used another card as well. On both instances it failed to install/update correctly on the card. The Toolbox app appears to have some trouble contacting some servers. I’ve repeated the process on different times of the day, on different days to no avail. People have commented that the contractor servers are known to be flaky.
Time for Android Auto/Car Play
When the time for the maintenance came, I raised this issue with the Mazda dealer again. This time they said that it was no longer supported or something like it’s being discontinued. Or they were just after my money? I would have still decided to pay for it anyway since it’s been in my wishlist for a long time. Shocking! Whether that is really the direction Mazda is taking, who knows. It makes sense sort of. Compared to Android Auto or Apple CarPlay that comes in with superior navigation apps, their built-in road navigation system pales in comparison. So why keep it and waste money on their part? For me however, a back up is a back up. It’s an offline contingency in case my phone is not available. I would still love to have it even if I had to pay for it. Officially.
Anyway, last time I asked how much an Android Auto/CarPlay installation costs it was somewhere north of PHP19,000, not including labor cost. This time the price was slashed by about 55%+/-. I took the bait. For some time I have been thinking about getting it. I just kept on delaying.
What to Expect
These are the things that I have noticed in the less than 2 months I have been using Android Auto (AA). It is well integrated into the Mazda Connect infotainment system with a few quirks. The second point down there was already made known to me by the dealer before they proceeded with billing me for the installation.
- Android Auto is NOT touch-enabled any time. This is a very glaring omission that I was not aware of before. I have since then read that all Mazda vehicles officially have touch disabled on the head unit while AA is active, whether the car is running or not. Mazda Connect still retains the touch screen when the car is parked, idling, or crawling at a <=5 km/h pace. This is UNACCEPTABLE. Really. A good majority of car manufacturers probably has it the other way. That is, enabled while car is not moving. A wild guess but that’s my take away from mostly what I’ve read. In fact, Apple CarPlay on Mazda has touch screen enabled while not moving. So this is a very serious negative user experience on the side of AA for Mazda owners!
- You can’t play any kind of videos. Not Netflix. Same with YouTube (maybe YouTube Music?). If your friend’s car can do that, it’s probably hacked/rooted. Officially, Google does not support it. Neither does Mazda. I understand this very well, and am not bothered by it at all. Video content poses a dangerous risk to the people in the car and pedestrians, not to mention property.
- To operate AA, the infotainment controls – these physical knobs and buttons at the center of the car – is used to navigate around on the screen real estate which can get some getting used to. So you’re somehow left with a “handicapped mouse”, plus some shortcut buttons. When the car is not moving, it would have been better if touch screen is enabled to make things faster.
- The green call/answer button on the steering wheel does not work. I have taken it back to the Mazda dealer to be checked. They don’t have a solution for it yet.
– UPDATE 1: So, I’ve searched the Internet about this a bit. It seems a lot of people have experienced this starting with version < 6.1. A number of people even got it worse because all the buttons on the steering wheel are no longer functioning. The version I have at the time of this writing is v6.7. Google AA Devs claim it has been fixed on v6.1, but it does not seem to apply for all.
– UPDATE 2: After further testing, it looks like the green button answers calls as expected. It just doesn’t trigger the Contacts app when tapped.
- For the red end/drop call button on the steering wheel, it looks to be working fine. They tested it out and confirmed it works. I want to verify that again on my own soon.
- The Back button on the center control appears to work on selected apps/actions only. There are certain points where it doesn’t do anything.
- There is a Favorites button in the center controls. This ties back to Mazda Connect only. It will take you back to that screen, outside of AA.
- If you have a dual SIM phone, make sure to set one as the default. Otherwise, outgoing calls while on AA will fail. I have yet to try if incoming calls will also not go through if no default SIM is set. My guess is incoming will be just fine since the system won’t have to decide which number to use to make the call.
- There were times when after an outgoing call, the audio would glitch. I’ve experienced this a number of times already. Cannot remember if an incoming call causes the same audio error. This is more like an Android Auto defect. The music application – Spotify this time – would continue to play but there is no sound coming from the speakers. Switching back to the FM radio or CD on Mazda Connect, the sound is blasting fine. I don’t know how to correct this. Re-plug the the USB to the phone slot? Go to the Mazda Connect settings and reconnect AA? Either should work.
– UPDATE 1: I have seen this reported in the Google AA forums. It is a known issue that appears to have been going on forever. Links below. The first is more recent. The other one started way back in 2019!
– UPDATE 2: There was an AA update that I didn’t notice. I know before 9/9/2021 my AA version was still 6.7+. Today – 9/23/2021 – it is already at 6.8+. The Saturday before I had both outgoing and incoming calls, but noticed to my surprise I could still hear music from Spotify after those calls ended. I guess it’s been fixed already? Yey!
- Not all apps can be installed and used on AA. There are only a select few. Not officially anyway.
I’ll add to this list if I find out something. Both errors and workarounds. If you ask me, I’m really fine with how it is operating on my car now. Except for that after-call-no-sound issue though. Need to research about that.
The biggest surprise really is with the touchscreen disabled. A Google product expert in the Android Auto Help forums say this was a Mazda decision. Not Google’s. Whether that is official or not, I can’t say. I don’t know if this was a deliberate decision on the side of safety by Mazda or a technical challenge.
I have read somewhere that it is more of a software system clash. There seems to be something going on with the infotainment system that doesn’t work with AA on Mazda vehicles. I’m taking that with a grain of salt. This is the statement from Google Forums:
English (Translated with www.DeepL.com/Translator):For the Android Auto app, its provider Google only allows one way to use it, not controller and screen at the same time. For security reasons, we have therefore decided to use the controller as the operating element. A change is not possible here due to the restrictions on the part of Google. Irrespective of this, the touch function would be deactivated in the other case as well as already with the MZD Connect while driving. During the ride there is no difference in the operation.https://support.google.com/profile/12515094
You can check other different answers from several people here: https://support.google.com/androidauto/thread/2749037/android-auto-touch-screen-is-disabled-completely?hl=en
– UPDATE 1: Based off of what I’ve read so far, the touch screen enabled together with dials/knobs/buttons to control AA works just fine for other car brands. Perhaps the above is not true at all?
For Apple CarPlay, iPhone users say everything is working fine. I’m taking that with a grain of salt. Have no idea what’s going on over at their side at all. I am not an Apple product fan. I’ve never owned any. I am going to try it out soon with my brother’s iPhone. If it turns out to my expectations I might become an Apple product owner soon. 😁😋
Update: Something glitched with the Mazda head unit so we couldn’t test it on Apple CarPlay. AA was also not connecting that time. Sucks! I was able to make restore it for the latter after much fiddling some time later.
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