Spotify is about to begin publicly testing its first hardware: a voice-controlled smart assistant for cars, meant to help Spotify learn how people consume audio while they’re driving. As part of the test, some Premium users will receive the device for free.
The device, called Car Thing, plugs into a vehicle’s 12-volt outlet (aka a cigarette lighter) for power and connects to both a person’s car and phone over Bluetooth. The device can be activated by saying, “Hey, Spotify,” followed by a request for whatever the person wants to hear. It’ll 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 what’s being played. On the other side are a series of buttons that can be used to access playlist presets.
The test, which will be small and begin within the next few weeks, will only run in the US for now, and Spotify will reach out to people it’s considering including. A source close to Spotify says the team doesn’t have a hard timeline for how long the test will run, and that there are no intentions to launch this device as-is or to the public more broadly.
In a blog post, Spotify says that Car Thing was developed to “help us learn more about how people listen to music and podcasts.” And despite this being a hardware device, Spotify says its focus “remains on becoming the world’s number one audio platform — not on creating hardware.”
Still, the source says Spotify has trademarked not only the Car Thing name, but also the names Voice Thing and Home Thing, which suggests that Spotify might be interested in creating a home smart speaker or at least piloting a test program with one. Read more