Spotify has introduced the Car Thing as a consumer product, a mini-tablet-like device that works with voice control or physical buttons. For the time being, the Car Thing is only available in the US and will have an expected price of 81 euros, including VAT.
Car Thing is a car accessory that users can hang on a ventilation grille and show only the Spotify app. It connects via bluetooth to a car radio and lets users navigate through Spotify’s music and podcast collection. Control works with the touchscreen, a rotary knob, with four preset buttons or with voice control.
The rotary knob is not a volume knob, but allows users to browse, select, play and pause music. The Car Thing has four microphones for voice control. It concerns Spotify’s own voice control, which can be called up with Hey Spotify. The Verge has tested the product and says that the Car Thing uses the car’s 12V power supply, has no speaker, has a 3.5mm port and can be affixed to the dashboard with a sticker in addition to the air vent mounting.
The streaming service speaks of a “limited edition” and says it will first be available for free to US users. These users can register via the Car Thing website to get on a list. Spotify emphasizes that a registration does not automatically mean that you actually get a Car Thing. It is not clear how many users can get the device. It is also unclear whether Spotify will later sell the product on a larger scale. It looks like that; at the bottom of the Car Thing page, the company lists an “anticipated sale price” of $80.
Spotify says it still focuses on the streaming service and not on making hardware. At the same time, the service says it has seen demand for Car Thing among users. These users would want a ‘seamless and personalized in-car listening experience’, regardless of the age of their car. In addition to a Spotify Premium subscription, Car Thing requires a smartphone with a WiFi connection or mobile internet.
It is not the first time that Spotify has made a physical product available to consumers. Earlier, the company tested another Car Thing, with a much smaller screen and a greater focus on voice control. However, Spotify seems to want to test the new Car Thing more extensively. It is also the first time that Spotify has mentioned a suggested retail price for the product