Spotify has unveiled Car Thing, its first attempt at the hardware market. The device acts like a infotainment center for your car that exclusively runs Spotify and gives you access to the music streaming service’s entire catalog of content.
The company is calling the device a limited edition, and that’s for good reason. Car Thing isn’t necessarily a formal introduction into the hardware market – it’s more so an experimental interface meant to give users a superior listening experience in their vehicles.
“Our focus remains on becoming the world’s number one audio platform—not on creating hardware—but we developed Car Thing because we saw a need from our users, many of whom were missing out on a seamless and personalized in-car listening experience,” Spotify said in a press release. “No matter the year or model of your vehicle, we feel everyone should have a superior listening experience. With Car Thing, we’ll now be bringing our entire catalogue of music and podcasts to a wider range of users across an even wider range of vehicles.”
Car Thing is a pretty straightforward product. It offers a screen that can be mounted to the vents in your car and gives you access to your Spotify library. Your phone gives the device a data connection, and a knob on the right lets you select different things that show up on the display. There are also a couple of buttons for interacting with the interface. There’s obviously no speaker since you connect it to your car’s stereo system.
Spotify wants you to primarily use your voice when interacting with Car Thing by saying “Hey Spotify” and asking for music or a podcast. Of course, so long as you’re not driving, you can just stick with the touchscreen.
According to Spotify, you’ll need to have a Premium account in order to use the device. That requirement won’t be hard to enforce since the only people who will be selected to buy one will be those who pay for Premium.
That’s the other thing: Spotify isn’t putting Car Thing up for just anyone to purchase. A limited number of units will be made and you have to join a waitlist to see if you’ll get to pick one up. Spotify says it’s waving the actual cost of the device for users (a $79.99 savings) and will only require that you pay shipping.
Do you need a Car Thing in your car? That more so depends on how old your car is. If you’re lacking Apple CarPlay, Android Auto, or a decent infotainment system, the device might suit you well. For everyone else, the accessory might feel unnecessary.
I’ve requested to be placed on the waitlist for a Car Thing so I’ll let you know if I get my hands on one.