When it comes to streaming music in our cars as we drive, Spotify is the go-to app. It’s free, easy to use (unless you're subscribed to Premium), and there are thousands of songs to choose from both new and old. The Spotify app effectively made iPods, USBs and CDs obsolete.
But for some reason Spotify has just launched a new physical device for your car, and they may have actually run out of names because they're just calling it the Car Thing.
Let's avoid being critical for now. Officially, Spotify says Car Thing is a new smart player that fills your car with music, news, entertainment, talk, and more. So, think of it as a portable infotainment system. But wait, doesn’t my car has a new high-tech infotainment system already? Well, if that’s the case, then you’re probably not the target for Spotify’s latest creation.
The company says Car Thing was developed for users missing out on a seamless, personalized in-car listening experience. Nearly all vehicles, no matter the year or model, can stream music and access podcasts. So if your vehicle doesn’t have Apple Carplay or Android Auto this should work though Spotify didn't clarify whether it hooks up via Bluetooth, the 3.5mm jack, or via a USB port.
The smart player itself is quite interesting. While it is a touchscreen, there is a large dial on the side reminiscent of older in-car head units. Users can then choose between either function to scroll through albums, select music, pause, play, and more. There’s also a voice search system that helps users find the tunes they want. Just say “Hey Spotify” and ask for the song, album, playlist, or podcast.
Spotify says Car Thing wasn’t made to compete with current in-car infotainment systems in vehicles. Instead, it’s a step in the company's “larger ubiquity strategy” which creates “a truly frictionless audio experience for our users, wherever they are and however they choose to listen”.
Spotify’s new Car Thing is currently available only in the US as a limited product launch. At the moment, it’s free to select Spotify users; the unit has a price of USD 79.99 (about PHP 3,880) exclusive of shipping within the US. It does require a paid Spotify Premium account to use and a smartphone with WiFi or mobile data connection.
Be that as it may, does having a separate device for streaming and podcasts make sense versus simply using hte app? Is Spotify following in the footsteps of the Apple iPod by trying something new or is this doomed like the Microsoft Zune?