Spotify’s new ‘Car Thing’ is the car gadget you absolutely don’t need

Spotify’s new ‘Car Thing’ is the car gadget you absolutely don’t need

And you probably can't buy it anyway

Spotify has experimented with releasing hardware based around its music streaming service, but none of its devices ever saw a wide release. This time around, the company has announced ‘Car Thing,’ a touchscreen panel for your car that plays Spotify and nothing else.

“Currently available to eligible users in the U.S.,” Spotify wrote in its announcement, “Car Thing enables you to play your favorite audio faster, so you’re already listening to that hit song or the latest podcast episode before you’ve even pulled out of the driveway. […] When it comes to controlling the device, use it in the way that works best for you, whether that’s voice, touch, or physical controls.”

Car Thing is 4.6 inches wide and 2.5 inches tall, with a touchscreen measuring 4 inches diagonally. There are four preset buttons on the top, which can be set to launch specific playlists, podcasts, or other content. Besides the touch screen, most functions can be controlled through the side dial. You can also say “Hey Spotify” to play content. Car Thing connects to your car using Bluetooth or the 3.5mm jack.

Car Thing

Even though its design is appealing, it’s hard to see it as necessary or helpful in any meaningful way. It’s not solving any problems that can’t be solved with a cheap phone car mount (and possibly a cheap Bluetooth/AUX adapter), and it still requires a phone connected via Bluetooth and a paid Spotify Premium plan. It adds an extra layer between your phone and your car that doesn’t need to exist, especially since the Spotify mobile app already has a car mode (which makes buttons and menus larger) and Android Auto/Apple CarPlay support.

Much like Spotify’s other hardware ventures, Car Thing isn’t being sold in stores — at least, not yet. Spotify says the device is only available in the United States on an invite-only basis, and some Spotify listeners will be offered them for free.

If you want to be put on the list to possibly get access to the device, head over to the website. It will cost $79.99.

Spotify: Music and Podcasts
Spotify: Music and Podcasts
Developer: Spotify AB
Price: Free

About author

Corbin Davenport
Corbin Davenport

Corbin is a tech journalist and software developer based in Raleigh, North Carolina. He's also the host of the Tech Tales podcast, which explores the history of the technology industry. Follow him on Twitter at @corbindavenport.