Spotify wants to make Car Thing a thing in mobile audio

Updated Apr 15, 2021 | Same topic: Leading-Edge Tech Trends

The audio streaming company unveiled its first hardware offering.

In-car audio has been around from the time automakers managed to make the radio compact enough to fit in the dashboard.

Since then, we’ve gone through head units that can play 8-track cartridges, cassette tapes, compact discs, MiniDiscs, and even SD cards. 

Spotify Car Thing

Spotify says the Car Thing is part of its efforts to bring music everywhere

>>> Related: [Philkotse tips] How to choose the right head unit for your car

However, there are size limitations to physical storage, and streaming services like Spotify are increasingly becoming the norm for tunes you can take anywhere (as long as there’s a data connection).

The company understands that many of its mobile users are still driving around in cars that use older entertainment systems, which is why it launched a proprietary device called Car Thing.

Not the most creative of monikers, we know. The device began life in 2019 as a product resembling an aftermarket phone camera lens attachment, developed primarily to study in-car listening habits of Spotify’s subscribers. Two years later, the gadget now features a more usable form factor.

Car Thing test version

The device was first tested in 2019 to study the listening habits of Spotify subscribers

In a nutshell, Car Thing acts as a Spotify remote. It uses your smartphone’s data connection to access your Spotify account, with playback done through Bluetooth, USB, or auxiliary input on the car’s head unit (the device itself has no external speakers). There are three ways to mount Car Thing in your vehicle too, although the device needs to stay plugged into the power outlet as it has no rechargeable battery.

>>> Related: A guide on dashboard accessories in the Philippines and our recommendations

Car Thing mounting methods

The device can be mounted three ways, depending on your preference

Using Car Thing gives you access not just to the songs in your own Spotify playlists, but also news and the latest entertainment podcasts. You can interact with the device through one of three methods: a large dial on the face of the device along with preset buttons on the top edge, directly tapping on the touchscreen, or through voice commands.

The last one involves four microphones which can be digitally switched off if you’re concerned about security.

Car Thing dial

Will this enhance or encumber your car audio listening experience?

>>> Related: Best playlists for driving home after work [Philkotse collection]

Moreover, Spotify is careful to label Car Thing as an exploration (referring to the experimental nature of the device), lest people get the wrong idea that the company is venturing into hardware as well.

It plans to retail Car Thing for $80 (Php 3,877.56), but in the meantime, the device is available at no charge and by invitation only for select Spotify Premium subscribers. You’ll need to be based in the U.S. to get one, however, and you’re expected to pay for shipping to your location.

Spotify Car Thing could be the next big, er, thing in audio on wheels, but only if you’re after the added convenience of dedicated voice controls. Otherwise, it might be easier to connect your phone directly to your head unit instead.

The latest car-related updates? It’s a thing here at

Joseph Paolo Estabillo

Joseph Paolo Estabillo


Joseph holds a degree in Journalism from the University of the Philippines Diliman and has been writing professionally since 1999. He has written episodes for CNN Philippines' motoring show Drive, and has worked on corporate projects for MG Philippines and Pilipinas Shell. Aside from being’s Content Lead, he also writes content for numerous car dealerships in the U.S., spanning multiple brands such as Alfa Romeo, Chrysler, Dodge, Jeep, and Maserati, among others.


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