Earlier today Spotify announced that it’s currently testing a new device called Car Thing. It’s being developed to help the company continue its focus on becoming the ‘the world’s number one audio platform’. Spotify’s Car Thing is powered via a vehicle’s 12-volt outlet and will be primarily operated with voice.
Spotify is not the only company dabbling with bringing easier voice controls to cars. Amazon has been working on Echo Auto, an Alexa device developed solely with the car in mind. Anker has taken a stab at Alexa and Google Assistant in the car with its Roav Viva and Bolt.
With nearly every major tech company out there having its own voice assistant, every company is feeling the pressure to support it. While this is not an easy task, it’s a natural progression towards simplifying technology. Spotify has been quick to work with several voice assistants, but with its investments in Car Thing, the company is looking for ways to make voice interactions even better.
Spotify is testing Car Thing by inviting a small group of its Premium members to try it out. It didn’t provide a specific number of customers, but we can only hope that its test audience is large enough to yield a dataset that ends up being useful. Spotify also mentioned that it may roll out other devices like ‘Voice Thing’ and ‘Home Thing’ in the future, but that those too would be primarily focused on gathering data to improve its streaming service.
Spotify has painted a clear picture that it has no intention of making a consumer-ready version of Car Thing at this time. Instead it’s merely a way for the company to explore how its users listen to music and podcasts. Given the potential to add another source of revenue, it wouldn’t be shocking if the company releases this or a similar products at some point in the future. Until then, get in line for Echo Auto, or order Anker’s Roav Viva or Bolt today.
Having written several Echo Dot Diaries now, it’s no secret that I’m a fan of voice as an input. Playing music is probably the second most popular way Alexa is used in my home, beaten only by controlling smart home devices. I rely on the Apple Music skill to get the job done, but do wish it was better at serving up what I’m asking for.
Apple Music is one of Spotify’s largest competitors and while Siri is far from perfect, HomePod incentivizes Apple to focus on constantly improving its voice controls. This fact makes Car Thing seem like both smart and necessary move for Spotify, even if the company never ends up rolling out its own hardware.