Spotify's Voice-Controlled 'Car Thing' Device Surfaces Once Again

Illustration for article titled Spotify's Voice-Controlled 'Car Thing' Device Surfaces Once Again
Photo: Martin Bureau/AFP (Getty Images)

Spotify’s long-rumored Car Thing device has emerged once again—this time in some iOS code.

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Spotify first announced that it was testing a “voice-controlled music and podcast device” called Car Thing back in 2019. Spotify was pretty specific at the time that its “focus remains on becoming the world’s number one audio platform—not on creating hardware,” though FCC filings from earlier this year certainly seemed to indicate that Spotify has at least been tinkering with the device’s design, as the one in its 2019 mockup looked different than the one depicted in FCC filing images.

Additionally, language contained in a confidentiality filing stated that the company had “spent substantial effort in developing this product and it is one of the first of its kind in the industry. Having the subject information easily available to ‘competition’ would negate the advantage they have achieved by developing this product. Not protecting the details of the design will result in financial hardship.” While possibly a mere formality, the request certainly reads like the company had indeed invested heavily in Car Thing’s development.

Illustration for article titled Spotify's Voice-Controlled 'Car Thing' Device Surfaces Once Again
Image: FCC

Images appearing to depict Car Thing shared by Steve Moser on Twitter and reported by MacRumors have reportedly cropped up in the Spotify app’s iOS code. These images show a horizontally oriented smartphone-looking screen with a knob and buttons. It looks very similar to an image contained in the FCC filing. It’s expected to connect via Bluetooth.

Originally, Car Thing was available as a limited test with a “small group” of premium Spotify users who were invited to participate. The company said in 2019 that it was developed “to help us learn more about how people listen to music and podcasts,” but also noted that other products like a “Voice Thing” or “Home Thing” could similarly be developed to understand how subscribers use its platform.

Spotify didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment about the recent images and its plans for Car Thing, but we’ll update if we hear back.

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