Spotify has announced that its long-awaited Car Thing is now on general sale in the US for $89.99, $10 more than its previously advertised price.
The Car Thing marks the music streaming service’s first foray into hardware. Designed to give users a more convenient, seamless and, presumably, safer way to control Spotify while driving, the gadget works similarly to Amazon's speakerless Echo Auto. You can speak to control Car Thing using voice search by saying "Hey Spotify" followed by your request, and there's also a large physical dial that allows you to scroll through menus and select items, or you can swipe and tap using the onboard touchscreen.
Included in the box are dashboard mounting hardware and a power cable to connect to your car’s USB or 12V port. Car Thing doesn’t contain a battery, so the device needs to remain plugged to function.
A Spotify Premium account and an external device with a data connection are required for Car Thing to stream music. The control panel connects to handheld devices using Bluetooth and then outputs to your car stereo either by mini-jack aux cable (not included) or Bluetooth.
The "Hey Spotify" voice control responds to commands including to Play, Show and Shuffle, but the company has indicated that thanks to user suggestions, it’s looking to incorporate an Add to Queue function that lets you queue up tracks using your voice as well as a Night Mode to dim screen brightness in the evening.
Spotify began offering Car Thing free to some of its Premium subscribers on an "invite-only" basis last April, before launching it to a "limited" waitlist of users in October priced at $80 (around £60, AU$110). More than two million people signed up, and Spotify struggled to meet demand due to ongoing chip shortages.
Car Thing is currently only available in the US. Spotify has not yet given any indication of future launch dates in the UK or Australia happening anytime soon.
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