Adding Wireless CarPlay

John Petroviak submitted an interesting question today, and after enlarging the only photo I could find of Mazda’s implementation of wireless CarPlay for MY 2021 Miatas, and if I’m seeing it properly, it looks like they’ve changed the airbag message panel/seat-warmer switches to include a shelf for the wireless charging pad. That is based on the assumption that wireless phone charging is included in that option, which is possibly incorrect.

Consider this a discussion article, and at least for now, not an authoritative how-to… 🙂

I am guessing that rather than producing a different USB hub, since it only needs power without wired connectivity to the CMU, the wireless charger is a unique assembly with a slimmer message panel / seat-warmer switches and a phone shelf, independent of the cubby below it. I’m thinking that the power feed would be via the seat-warmer connectors though, so a car without that option might need a power wire run from the lower fuse panel, possibly resulting in 2 powered switches for seat warmers that might be otherwise useless, but if you do have seat warmers (and the CarPlay USB hub), it may very well be an easy mod!

[UPDATE 1/9/2021]
Ash8, has reported today, that Wireless CarPlay will require firmware 74.00.200+, and although the CMU seems to be the same unit, by MY 2022, he expects that an upgraded CMU (expected to cost around the $2K mark), that includes a different display screen (no touchscreen ability), will be the norm. He surmises that perhaps by MY 2022, these upgraded CMUs will be standard in both the Club and Grand Touring Miatas.

[UPDATE 5/31/2021]
Tristan-CX-5 stated today, that “Wireless CP requires special hardware inside the CMU. It is not just a software solution, even if both new CMUs part numbers (with and without CP) have the same firmware. So it is about the same as with wired CP/AA (same firmware, but requires hardware to be activated). You can not activate Wireless CP in a CMU which does not have the wireless CP hardware in it.” Therefore, don’t install firmware 74.00.230 thinking you’ll enable Wireless CarPlay.


16 thoughts on “Adding Wireless CarPlay

  1. Thanks for the shout-out. This will indeed be an interesting one to dig into. Can’t wait to get ahold of a service manual for the MY 2021 MX5. I can only assume that this will be an upgrade that several older MX5 owners will want as well.

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  2. Happy New Year everybody,

    if i understand it correctly wireless CarPlay requires that your car has, in addition to Bluetooth, a Wifi Access Point installed. The Bluetooth connection is used by the car to instruct your phone on how to connect to the access point.
    Audio and video data transfer is then done over Wifi.

    Currently the Mazda CMU only operates as a Wifi Client. Don’t know if it already includes any dedicated access point hardware.
    However there are software solutions to turn a client into an access point. If the processing power and memory availability of the current CMU hardware is sufficient for this is a different topic.

    This might not be in the interest of Miata owners who wish to retrofit wireless CarPlay to their current vehicle, but I hope that Mazda also installs one of their more powerful CMUs. Personally I think that the current level of responsiveness leaves much to be desired.

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    • The pictures lead me to believe that the CMU in the Miata Grand Touring is still the 7th generation, rather than the 8th that Mazda is installing in some of their other 2021 models (wider and shorter non-touch screens), which is why I was hopeful that the upgrade was via hardware other than the CMU. Thank you for your comment though Tobias, because I have never owned an iPhone, nor experienced CarPlay, or even paired a phone with my CMU for that matter 🙂 so I’ll again be learning from others.

      I keep thinking back to my article on the Alpine Halo9 unit (which doesn’t have wireless CarPlay by the way) and how someday, an aftermarket single DIN unit (with a floating screen a little smaller than Halo9 😉 ) will become available that checks all the boxes as a Mazda replacement, like working with the factory rear camera, steering wheel controls, antenna(s), etc. (other than the personalization, fuel economy and maintenance screens, which really aren’t that big of a deal).

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  3. Ash8, has reported today, that Wireless CarPlay will require firmware 74.00.200+, and although the CMU seems to be the same unit, by MY 2022, he expects that an upgraded CMU (expected to cost around the $2K mark), that includes a different display screen (no touchscreen ability), will be the norm. He surmises that perhaps by MY 2022, these upgraded CMUs will be standard in both the Club and Grand Touring Miatas.

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  4. I’ve tried to use the CPLAY2air with my 2019 Abarth w/ the CarPlay mods. Best I’ve gotten is a cycling 30 seconds of wireless carplay before the adapter resets, reconnects, and works for another 30 seconds. Anyone had luck with this device with our CMUs and the Mazda CarPlay retrofit?

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    • I’ve also tried the CPLAY2Air adapter in my Abarth. The results were better than yours, Rictorg, but still not anywhere near what I would call acceptable. I actually got it to work sometimes, and when it did it was nice, however, like you, I had all sorts of problems getting it to connect on startup, and mine would also cause the CMU to randomly reboot. There’s a big discussion thread on this device over at MacRumors, and the consensus there seems to be that the unit is not ready for prime time. The developers in China are forever issuing firmware updates to the device. Many times the update will brick the device or make it perform worse than before the update. It’s also pretty pricey for it to not work. I’ve stopped fiddling with mine and have thrown it in my failed experiment drawer. Until someone comes up with a solution that works more reliably, I’ll stick with wired CarPlay. That works reliably and connects well to the infotainment system.

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      • I took a look at the MacRumors website, and there was some recent feedback that the March firmware update fixes connection issues with Mazda CMUs. I gave it a go – and it seems to work at least well enough for me to keep trying. I’ll need to give it several weeks to call it fixed but no issues on my two drives today!

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  5. An update on the addition of a wireless dongle as a relatively inexpensive (~USD $100.00) way to add wireless CarPlay. I took the plunge again about two weeks ago and bought a Carlinkit 2+ unit. This one has worked well for me thus far. They seem to have improved the initial connection process with the Bluetooth and then the handoff to the dongle’s internal wifi. In two weeks of use, I’ve only had the unit not autoconnect once, and an unplug/replug fixed that. It takes approx. 35-40 seconds after engine start for the CarPlay screen to display. As I expected, there is a bit of a UI lag, but nothing unacceptable. The CMU has not auto rebooted at all, unlike my old CarPlay2Air unit. Phone call voice quality is acceptable. So far I’m happy with this box. Also, it’s smaller than the CarPlay2Air box, and this one fits nicely into the recess next to the Nav SD card reader. I’m running Mazda software v70.00.100 NA N with tweaks. I got the dongle from Amazon, which also allows for simple return if it didn’t work instead of shipping it back to China. A final thought. I have not even checked for a firmware update for the dongle and have no plans to. I updated the CarPlay2Air frequently, and the updates were a total crapshoot. One of them ultimately bricked my unit. So my advice (and many other users concur) if you get one and it works, do not update the dongle’s firmware unless you’re just experimenting with it and are willing to risk bricking it. Even the company says to not attempt a firmware update unless the dongle is not working correctly. So that’s it. I’m happy so far but as always YMMV. Good luck if you decide to try one and hope you have as good an experience as I have.

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      • For me, the Carlinkit 2 has been working well. It connects in about 35-40 seconds after starting the car. The only thing I’ve noticed is a slight lag (around a second) between when I press a button and when the press takes effect. Music is good, phone calls are good. CarPlay is working OK with iOS15. I have not attempted to do any firmware updates on the Carlinkit. The manufacturer say to not try to update unless you have problems with the unit and so far I haven’t had any problems. I’m happy with the way this works for me.

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  6. I have the Carlinkit Version 2 and get the 30 sec cycle and reboot. It has been fully updated, but I have some questions. I’m still running 7.0000.1 should I update the Mazda Firmware and what version can I go to and still wind back to 7.00001? I was 5.6 and ran ID7 so covered there. Secondly, I think the available memory in the CMU is the problem and I want to delete Gracenote completely, it takes up so much space and we don’t have XDM or DAB in Australian Models. So perhaps with more memory available to wireless dongles will work better? Any one have ideas on removing gracenote data to free up memory?

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    • Found the Gracenote disable and applied, freed up lots of memory, but wireless dongle still does not work. Keen to try a different Mazda firmware but not sure which one is easier to wind back to default.

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