- Last May, Spotify announced a voice-activated music-streaming gadget, called the Car Thing – but said it would only be available for select users as a test of how people listen to music and podcasts in their car.
- Filings with the FCC give us our best look at the mysterious device yet, and could be a hint that Spotify might plan to actually put the Car Thing up for sale at some point.
- Any Spotify users who might have gotten a Car Thing as part of the test don’t seem to have said anything about it on social media or elsewhere – we haven’t heard much about the gadget since May, from either Spotify or users.
- Visit Business Insider’s homepage for more stories.
We finally know more about Spotify’s long-discussed Car Thing – a voice-activated music-streaming gadget intended for the car (naturally), representing the music-streaming service’s first foray into hardware.
Spotify first announced the Car Thing in May, but said it was a prototype and that it had no plans to mass-produce it for consumers. The idea, Spotify said, was to give it to a select few users as a way to test how they listen to music and podcasts in the car, to give the company more data for future products and services. In other words, Spotify said, it had no plans to get into hardware.
That came as a disappointment to some Spotify users, who were excited at the prospect of buying a Car Thing for themselves: It has a built-in 4G/LTE modem to stream music without pairing to a phone, and it has a cache so that the music doesn’t stop when reception cuts out. It also has voice controls so you don’t have to look down to pause a track.
Since the gadget was first announced, Spotify hasn’t said anything about the Car Thing or the results of its test in public. Indeed, we didn’t even know for sure what it looks like, apart from a promotional image that Spotify shared when it was first announced – and any users who might have one don’t appear to have shared any reviews or photos on social media.
Even Spotify’s first filing with the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) at the end of May didn’t reveal too many details about Car Thing. However, at the end of September, Spotify updated that filing to include photos of the Car Thing itself, as well as its user manual, giving us our best look yet at the device.
Could the September filing, including the instruction manual, be a hint that things have changed and the Car Thing could go up for sale at some point? We’ve reached out to Spotify for comment and will update if we hear back. In the meanwhile, here’s our best look yet at the device.
Here’s what the now-available photos and user manual slides tell us about the Car Thing:
A first look at the much-touted Car Thing shows that the small gadget comes in Spotify’s trademark black and green combo.
Here’s what the front of the device looks like:
It seems to come with a rather clunky-looking, multi-functional mounting device that can attach to the car vents, CD slot, or the car dashboard.
The device also has an adaptor to connect to the dock and power source. You can connect to the car’s media system using either Bluetooth or an auxiliary cable.
Car Thing doesn’t have a touchscreen, so you either have to physically control the music using the device (#1 and #2 on this diagram) or control it with your voice (the microphone on #4). Music can also be saved and later played by pressing the buttons in area #3, the user manual said.
To operate the device manually, you use the dial to scroll through options and sub-options, and press the centre of the screen to select options.
If you prefer to operate the device hands-free, Car Thing also responds to spoken commands, the user manual says. You can invoke it by saying “Hey Spotify.”
But in both cases, you do have to link the Car Thing to your Spotify account — so you’re out of luck if you only use Apple Music or Tidal.
Business Insider Emails & Alerts
Site highlights each day to your inbox.