Spotify Car Thing Released: What Does It Do?

Spotify has just announced that Car Thing, its new proprietary in-car audio device, is officially available in the United States. Similar to a smartphone or a GPS device with a large, protruding dial, Car Thing is an interesting addition to the market, although it requires both a smartphone and a Spotify Premium subscription in order to function. On the other hand, Car Thing from Spotify certainly has most smartphones beat in a few ways, especially in terms of controlling the music.

Spotify introduces Car Thing as a smart player that makes the perfect companion to your daily drives. Be it a road trip, commute to work, or a quick visit to the supermarket, Car Thing works seamlessly with your smartphone in order to make your rides more fun. It features the full catalog of Spotify Premium, including thousands of songs and podcasts, and is fully voice-controlled. All users need to do in order to communicate with the device is simply say, "Hey Spotify."

The device seems to be very easy to control, be it by voice or through the large dial, and it's certainly fun how you can keep your songs playing even when you leave the car — all thanks to the smartphone connection. However, it's hard not to wonder whether smartphone owners really have that much to gain from using Car Thing.

Voice controls to make control while driving easier

Made to be a less distracting option than a smartphone screen, the Car Thing comes with many control options, including voice controls, a huge dial, and four preset buttons. You can always see what's currently playing on the screen, but the device doesn't seem to have a touchscreen. Spotify has certainly tailored voice controls to work best with the Spotify Premium app, and this alone gives the device an edge over most smartphones.

Smartphone users can often control their devices by voice, and simple commands such as "Next song" or "Pause" are all within reach. However, Spotify Car Thing takes voice control to the next level and lets users leverage more advanced requests, such as "Show similar artists" or "Shuffle my liked songs." The four buttons can be configured to instantly bring up your favorite playlists and can be changed based on your preference.

Other than the novel controls, Spotify's Car Thing is a bit of a mix of an old-school mp3 player and a smartphone. As it connects to your phone, it uses phone data and doesn't require further access or ports. Similarly, once your drive is over, the song will continue playing on your phone without pausing once you unplug the device from the Car Thing.

For this range of fun additions to what most of us already own (namely, a smartphone), Spotify charges $90 for the Car Thing as well as $10/month for the Premium subscription plan. It's a novelty, that's for sure, and the company claims that it was well-received since it was first released to customers for testing in 2021. It's not a ground-breaking device, but it could certainly make driving a little more fun — and perhaps that's all that matters.