Other reviews have marked down the new CX-9 for not including Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. I haven't used either, but I've studied both car products from Apple and Google to know enough about them. While it certainly wouldn't have hurt to include either, I'm also of the opinion it doesn't hurt the entertainment experience of the new CX-9 all that much. The entertainment system inside the CX-9, MZD Connect, does a well-rounded job of providing what most drivers want. And if you do add in Apple CarPlay or Android Audio, there is the inherent issue of trying to decide which one. How to do you please everyone? You're going to have some happy people, and some unhappy people, depending on which ecosystem they are tied into.
However, I'll say, if Mazda does want to continue the path of its own system, I would like to see it put effort into creating a developer community that can create and sell apps for MZD Connect, just like we see with iOS and Android, albeit to a lesser extent. Mazda may even need to invest further in its software team to create a greater range of apps, maybe even also create an app store of sorts. Because, while I'm satisfied enough by MZD Connect, others will want the choice to install their own apps just because that's the thing you do nowadays, and because they want that choice to expand what MZD Connect can do for them. And that's fair enough.
As far as MZD Connect itself goes, it's a good system. It's easy to use and navigate, and intuitive enough for most people to use. You can tap on the screen to get to where you want to go, or use the knob, back, or favorite buttons on the center entertainment hub to navigate.
The navigation system works well enough and as to be expected. When the car is connected to your mobile device's hotspot over Wi-Fi, you can also turn on online traffic and live weather. A car that can connect to wireless? Yep, another tick. It works quite well, and as to whether you would use the weather feature, at least it's there if you want. You get the destination's current weather (condition, temperature, and wind speed/direction), as well as a seven-day weather report, if you dive deeper in.
Another interesting thing of note, you can get your exact coordinates as well as altitude, the number of GPS satellites available to you and their strength, set time by GPS, a safety information page for your current area which includes the phone country code, emergency phone number, speed limits for various areas, and maximum blood alcohol limit.
Below are some photos of almost all the screens of MZD Connect:
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