Spotify is going to start testing its first hardware which is a voice-controlled smart assistant for cars, it is meant to help Spotify know how people consume audio while they are driving. The device is known as ‘Car thing’ that will plug into a vehicle’s 12-volt outlet for power and connects to both a person’s car and phone over Bluetooth.
The piece of automotive hardware is not entirely a consumer’s device. The voice-controlled product will only be offered to a small group of invited Spotify Premium users in the US who are receiving a subscription in return. However, the device can be activated b saying “Hey, Spotify,” then you can request Spotify for whatever you want to hear. It would be linked to a user’s Spotify account so they can access their playlists.
Car thing includes a circular screen on one side which will show you what is currently playing. On the other side, there is a series of buttons which can be used to access playlist presets.
In a blogpost, Spotify explains Car Thing was created to “help us learn more about how people listen to music and podcasts.” The company says its focus “remains on becoming the world’s number one audio platform — not on creating hardware.”
The testing would be minor and begin within the next few weeks, it will run only in the US for the time being. A source told that Spotify team don’t have a hard timeline for how long the test will run, plus the company might not have any intentions to launch this device as-is or to the public more broadly.
Moreover, the source says that the company has a trademark not only for the Car thing name but also for the names Voice Thing and Home Thing. It points out that Spotify probably is interested in creating a home smart speaker or at least piloting a test program with one. Furthermore, Spotify is running Car Thing to know more about the in-car experience. The company already had some data related to the users’ habits while driving in integration with Waze.
However, if someone is playing music with the help of an auxiliary cable and not by Bluetooth, or via another third-party app, Spotify might not know the context for that listening session.