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Spotify’s Car Thing now lets you control your other media

Spotify has released a software update for its Car Thing companion device that gives it several new features including the ability to see and answer your incoming calls, add new items to your play queue, and control non-Spotify media. Some of the new features are only available on iOS devices, but Spotify says it is working to bring them to Android phones too.

Car Thing is a $90 device that combines a 4-inch touchscreen with a large navigation wheel, shortcut buttons, and voice recognition and connects to your phone via Bluetooth. It’s designed to give you an easier way to navigate and play Spotify’s content while driving and is especially handy for those who don’t have Apple’s CarPlay or Google’s Android Auto built into their car’s infotainment system. You need a Spotify Premium account to use Car Thing and the device is currently only available in the U.S.

Spotify Car Thing showing an incoming call.

With these new features, it’s clear that Spotify sees an opportunity for Car Thing to take on an increasing number of duties that go beyond Spotify’s service. The new calling feature is a good example: On an iPhone, you can now see, answer, and dismiss your incoming calls. It’s not a leap to imagine that soon you’ll be able to place outgoing calls via Car Thing too, possibly using your voice to do so.

Here are the other features that launched on April 7:

  • Control other media: iPhone users can now play and control other media on Car Thing. When you want to return to Spotify, you can do so via the presets buttons, your voice, or by tapping the screen. Spotify hasn’t indicated which “other media” can be controlled, or whether this includes other streaming music services like Apple Music, Amazon Music, or Tidal.
  • Add to queue: You can now queue additional songs and podcasts. There are four ways to work with queues:
    • With touch: Tap the Add to queue icon next to a track in your tracklist.
    • With the dial: When you have a track highlighted, press and keep holding the dial – one press will play, while pressing and holding will add to the queue.
    • Request music with Voice: E.g.: Say, “Hey Spotify, queue Drivers License
    • View your queue: Say, “Hey Spotify, open my queue” or press and keep holding the dial when in Now Playing view.
  • Use voice to get a personalized playlist for your mood: Ask for any genre, mood, or activity that describes the kind of music you want to hear. E.g.: Say, “Hey Spotify, play cozy Sunday R&B,” and Spotify will create a personalized playlist from your request. “Hey Spotify” commands only work in places where the “Hey Spotify” service is available.

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Simon Cohen
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