At the beginning of the year, we reported Spotify was working on a voice-controlled in-car music-playing gadget, which would connect to the car via Bluetooth to stream your favorite tunes. Today, the company confirmed such a device exists, but it's actually a prototype designed to learn how people listen to music while driving, meaning it won't be commercially available.
The Car Thing is a small device that plugs into your car's 12V cigarette lighter and connects to your audio system over Bluetooth. It has a round screen on the left to show you what's playing and four buttons to control it and access your favorite playlists. As you're supposed to use it in your car, the Car Thing is activated by saying "Hey Spotify," but will reportedly function using an in-house system rather than Alexa or Assistant.
The Verge says the experiment has been going on privately for a while, but Spotify only officially communicated about it today. The company announced the test is exclusive to the US, and some Premium users will be selected to participate in the program and receive the device for free. Spotify says the trial is meant to “help [them] learn more about how people listen to music and podcasts,” with their focus not being on creating hardware.
Since the app already has a driving mode and is integrated with Waze, it's a bit surprising they'd want to use a separate gadget to study in-car behavior. Also, the firm has trademarked the Car Thing, Voice Thing, and Home Thing appellations, which could still mean they're thinking of releasing voice-controlled devices in the future. We'll keep you posted as we hear more about this device and whether it leads to the commercialization of a final product.