Spotify’s ‘Car Thing’ Could Deliver Music Streaming to Millions of Vehicles
The FCC database is a beautiful thing for journo's chasing that breaking story, or in this case, a sneak preview of upcoming product releases as is this case here with Spotify.
Spotify USA Inc's application registered on the 5th June 2018 and since updated now offers more insight to the extensive speculation the streaming music giant was getting into the hardware market. Dubbed “Music Streaming Device CT001” for the application, downloading the user manual reveals a more commercially acceptable name - 'Car Thing'.
Meet Car Thing - Car Thing makes it easier than ever to play your favorite music and podcasts in the car.
First reported by Business Insider, selected Spotify Premium US users were given prototypes to use in their vehicles so that Spotify HQ engineers could gain a better understanding of music use in cars. Spotify never confirmed nor denied any such product would ever make it to market, however as the FCC application seems to have ramped up, our guess is Car Thing is soon to be, a 'thing'.
Delving deeper into the user manual also reveals the small compact unit measures 98 x 43.3 x 31.7 mm (WHD) and is finished in trademark Spotify green and black colour. It also comes supplied with several mounts - including a dash mount, vent mount, CD mount, and dock and screw.
It features a built-in 4G/LTE model allowing you “to play music and podcasts without using your phone, or any other device. Also, with smart caching, your music and podcasts can keep playing when you lose connection.” Without any form of touch control, Car Thing has been enabled with voice recognition, a dial and preset buttons said to avoid driver distraction. There is a small screen to see what's playing in any case.
Piping the music to your vehicle is either Bluetooth 4.0 (A2DP) or the provided 3.5mm Aux cable, while the provided power adapter offers a 5V USB connection for Car Thing from 12V cigarette lighter ports. Once the connections are made, you are guided through the setup of the device, with the use of a smartphone and an internet connection. The manual says “Link your Spotify account to the device”.
Spotify is pushing the voice control method of operating Car Thing by simply saying “Hey Spotify”. You can ask it to play the music or podcast you want to hear, Say which song is playing and who the artist is, and Perform actions like pause, shuffle, skip, like, and dislike.
Car Thing will also regularly receive OTA upgrades as its always connected to a 3G/4G cellular network.
Of course, all of this is subject to change, and there's currently no known release date. Spotify said, “We don't have any current plans to make this specific device available to consumers, but the learnings from our test will dictate how we develop experiences everywhere you listen.” - but, that was back in May 2019.
Some may wonder whether there's a need for a Car Thing. Still, with laws now making it illegal to hold or touch your phone while driving (as it should be), Car Thing does arguably deliver the convenience of music streaming to millions of vehicles that don't offer cloud or internet connectivity.
The Spotify Car Thing might even become the cassette to 3.5mm adaptor of this decade?