If you were on the fence about Spotify’s Car Thing, the latest feature update might be enough to make you take the plunge. Spotify has started rolling out a bunch of new features to the $89 Car Thing, which seem designed to help the gizmo better compete with the likes of Apple CarPlay.
The main new feature coming is the fact Car Thing will now let iPhone users answer (or dismiss) phone calls mid-drive. So if your car doesn’t have Bluetooth connectivity and phone call support, or you don’t have a screen to see who’s calling you, the Car Thing adds that capability to your car for a fairly low price.
Other features coming include the ability to play and control media that isn’t Spotify, though you have multiple options to quickly switch back to the streaming service if you wish. Sadly, this is also an iOS-exclusive feature, with Spotify promising that Android users will get call support and expanded media controls at an unspecified point in the future.
Car Thing will also make it easier to listen to something agreeable without having to stop and manage your queue by hand. Using the touchscreen, control dial or “Hey Spotify” voice commands, Car Thing will now add songs and playlists to your queue. Car Thing can also let you view your queue with a voice command, or by pressing and holding down on the control dial, so you see what’s coming up after the current track is over.
If you'd rather focus on the road and not have to curate your play queue on the move, Car Thing can do it for you. Simply ask the mini screen for a mood, genre or activity that best describes the kind of music you want, and Car Thing will serve up a personalized playlist. If it’s not very good, simply roll the dice by asking for something else.
Car thing is a fairly cost-effective way of adding some smarts to your car. All the legwork is done by your phone, with the screen acting as a middle man between it and your car’s stereo system.
The gizmo also acts as a controller, meaning you can use the screen itself to control music and do all the other things Car Thing is capable of. How you do that is up to you, since you can use the touchscreen, physical controls or voice commands to get stuff done.
You will need a Spotify Premium subscription for Car Thing to work, and it’s currently only available to purchase within the United States. The Car Thing itself is $89.99 (opens in new tab), with shipping included, while Spotify Premium costs $10 a month.