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Looking for a sleek head unit for my 2012 F-150 with Sync 1 & Navigation

642 Views 27 Replies 6 Participants Last post by  hrcd
Just bought a 2012 king ranch with the Ford Sync 1 system with navigation. It's got the 8" screen where all the climate info is shown on it. I figure that probably complicates an aftermarket head unit because I would need one that can still show all the climate info. When I put that I have that system in Crutchfield I noticed it significantly slimmed down my compatible options. If it was decent at all I'd just put up with it, but the Sync 1 system is just the worst lol. I'd like something that has Carplay (wired or wireless), looks sleek (not gaudy or cheap looking), and that's at least the size of the oem one. If anyone has experience with changing out this system I'd love to see what you did! Also just looking for recommendations from the experts here. Thanks!

Here's a pic of what I have in my truck just so it's clear.
Land vehicle Vehicle Automotive navigation system Car Automotive design
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I did a quick search and one avenue is https://www.idatalinkmaestro.com/en/compatible-products/radios
Apparently the idatalink maestro plus a compatible radio allows you to get a new head unit and keep the AC controls.
Hmm okay that's interesting. I think I may have input something incorrectly for my vehicle the first time because now it's saying the one I was looking at will work (Pioneer DMH-WT7600NEX). So I guess all of the ones on that idatalink maestro list are ones that have climate controls built into their software? If I'm looking at this correctly now it's definitely not as bad as I thought it was going to be.
You already have everything you need there is no point of changing the radio just to get the CarPlay
uhh ok lol😆
You have to run their dash kit and their module. Works awesome after that. What I did in the Mrs 2012 Mustang. Retains steering wheel controls.
Gotcha. I know I've heard of that maestro piece before I've just never understood what does what. I'm assuming the maestro takes in all the vehicle wiring for stuff like climate controls and other vehicle info and then plugs into the head unit? Does the head unit just detect the maestro is plugged in and somehow knows how to give the climate control and other vehicle info?
The good news is that if your car already has a working touchscreen and radio, you already have everything you need to add Apple CarPlay. You don't need to change the factory navigation system or deal with the complicated process of installing an aftermarket radio and adapters for steering wheel controls and backup cameras.

Instead, you can simply install an aftermarket CarPlay module. This will allow you to seamlessly integrate Apple CarPlay with your existing touchscreen and radio. With CarPlay, you can enjoy hands-free calling, messaging, navigation, and access to your favorite apps right from your car's touchscreen.

The advantage of this approach is that it's much simpler and cleaner to install. You won't have to deal with the complexities and potential issues that come with replacing the factory radio and making different adapters work together.
I know this you're feeding me an ad but that actually is pretty enticing. I'll check it out. I'd love to keep the stock look if I can get the functionality I want.
Are you trying to improve the audio quality or just interested in Apple CarPlay? If your goal is solely to have Apple CarPlay, then once you are inside the CarPlay mode, you won't need any other factory features. In that case, it wouldn't make sense to change the radio for an aftermarket one because it would require a lot of resources and additional parts just to add a single feature. However, remember that once you're using CarPlay, you can access all the CarPlay apps.

Also, remember that once you're using CarPlay, it doesn't matter how good or bad the factory sound system is because you won't be using any of its resources. CarPlay relies entirely on your phone for its functionality. It's important to understand that CarPlay only exists within your phone and cannot be accessed without it. Your phone provides the CarPlay interface and display on the screen, while the touchscreen in your car allows you to control the CarPlay features of your phone.
Pretty much just wanting CarPlay. The Sony audio system is good enough for me. I just can’t stand the complete randomness of sync detecting my phone or not, and I like having my Apple Maps on the dash. Which of your products would I be looking at for that?
To will need to get Apple CarPlay/Android Auto, you would need a plug and play interface that works with your existing factory screen. No changes to the factory setup are required. Simply remove the radio bezel, unscrew four screws to take out the radio, plug in the interface at the back of the radio, and you're done. It should take about 30 minutes, and then you'll have CarPlay or Android Auto available on your factory screen.
Love the idea, but can find literally nothing on your product. No reviews, videos, articles.
For many years, we exclusively supplied CarPlay to car dealerships. At that time, our focus was on providing CarPlay systems for installation by dealerships themselves, as part of the car sale to their customers. Nowadays, almost every car comes equipped with factory-installed CarPlay. Taking this into consideration, we have made a strategic decision to switch our operations directly to consumers like you.
That makes sense. I'd still recommend putting some guides or videos on your website so people like myself can have a little more confidence when considering purchasing your product.
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Thank you for sharing your thoughts. We appreciate your input. This week, we plan to upload videos on our website and in the vendor section. We have become accustomed to the fact that CarPlay functions similarly across various vehicles, whether it's a Ford F150, an aftermarket Sony radio, a Rolls-Royce worth half a million dollars, or any other car. This is because CarPlay relies on the phone. However, now that we are directly interacting with customers, we need to make some changes to provide end-user materials.
I think that would be a great idea. It's not that I need to see how Carplay works, it's that I'd like to see how the install process happens, and how exactly it goes back and forth between Carplay and Ford's software. It'll be at least a few weeks before I make my decision on this anyway (got some other issues to fix first) so I'll be looking out for those!
Ask him to see a working system in a 2011/2012 Sync system. I’m like 99% sure this isn’t possible unless they ad a standalone carplay unit.

The maestro box is basically a programmable CAN communicator. When you remove your HVAC controls/screen. You lose the piece of the puzzle that communicates with your stock systems. It connects and talks on the CAN (Controller Area Network). It makes everything work together and be able to your head unit as AC/Heater controls.
Yeah I'm having a hard time figuring out how they would do it with a simple "plug and play" solution as well. The price isn't cheap either so even if it does work I'll have to decide if it's worth it over a much higher quality screen that I'd be getting aftermarket. That makes a lot more sense on the maestro. Thanks for the explanation.
That sounds pretty
So I didn't have the same setup as you with the OEM touchscreen. My 2011 had all the buttons without a screen. But I installed an aftermarket HU with the Maestro interface and it works great with the factory sony system. It wasn't hard but it did take alittle trial and error and playing around. I would HIGHLY suggest programming out all the ford sync stuff when you program the maestro. I tried it with the sync and it was horrible. I ended up programming it without sync and I just use siri for everything. The only negitive to this is you can't use the OEM mic. I had to use the aftermarket MIC that comes with the radio.
You can setup a custom steering wheel controls so I have the stock sync button setup to activate siri. I love it.
Another cool example: My Alpine can display vehicle data from the OBD2 port. If I hold the steering wheel "OK" button it pulls up a screen with tons of info like Boost, EGT, AIT, ect.

Just make double sure the radio you'll looking at can do AC controls. Lots of radios will work with F150s and Maestro but not all of them will do the AC controls.
Thanks for sharing! Good to know it works well with the Sony system. I've never had a system that does the vehicle data on the screen so that will be cool to mess with. I can deal with an aftermarket mic if it means sync is gone. I've never tried a newer sync system, but these older versions are the worst. It's 50/50 whether it detects my phone lol.
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Our 2012 Mustang with the Sync 1 system was the same way. Now the Pioneer unit always detects it. Works awesome. View attachment 188302 View attachment 188303 View attachment 188304 View attachment 188305
Nice! That's a clean looking install. I have a Sony XAV-AX5000 in the truck I'm coming from (2012 Nissan Frontier). As someone who constantly uses GPS, having Apple Maps on my dash through Carplay is essential. Thought about taking that unit and throwing it in the F150, but I want something at least as big as the 8" that's currently in there.
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Good luck in your search. Let us know what you find. If you have any questions on programming the Maestro unit let me know.

If you purchase it from a local shop they should be able to program it for you otherwise you need a special programming tool.
I'll be sure to post what I end up going with. Not sure if I'll do the install or not but good to know. Thanks for the help!
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have you looked into the conversion kits? I went with this guy he was great and responsive Home - Breeves002
Yeah like fanatical said, I don't think they are compatible unfortunately. I'm doing some other repairs on the truck that are taking longer than expected but I'll probably eventually end up going with a nicer aftermarket head unit... Might be a few months before I pay up for that though. I'll update here once I do!
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