Spotify has officially announced its first-ever gadget. It's called Car Thing (yes, really) and it's a little display that mounts in your car and allows you to easily listen and control your Spotify music and podcasts while you drive. Car Thing is a very limited device, but the cool thing is that Spotify is offering it to Spotify Premium subscribers for free — but there are few pretty big caveats.
First, you need to be a Spotify Premium subscriber to be in contention to get Car Thing. Second, Spotify is only releasing a limited number of Car Things, meaning most Spotify Premium subscribers probably won't get their hands on one. And finally, Car Thing isn't completely free as, if selected, Spotify is still going to make you pay a few bucks for shipping.
If you're interested, you need to sign up for a waitlist: Go to this link and click the "Put me on the list" button, and wait until Spotify reaches out to you via email.
Car Thing is essentially a glorified Spotify remote for people who have cars with no built-in Bluetooth and don't want to use their smartphone for the task. The other feature that makes it better than just using your smartphone to control your Spotify music in your car is voice control — it responds to "Hey Spotify" voice commands to play sounds or playlists, as well as play/pause and skip tracks. In addition to voice commands, you can control Car Thing via its navigation buttons, large knob and touchscreen.
It's worth stressing exactly how barebones this device is: There's no maps or navigation. You can's see messages or use for phone calls, either, as Car Thing doesn't have a built-in speaker. It also doesn't have a rechargeable battery so you'll need to have it plugged into your car (via its included USB-A to USB-C charging cable).
And Car Thing still requires a Bluetooth connection to your smartphone to work. This means that you can can't listen to Spotify in your car if you forget your smartphone at home. It also means that, if you're data-conscious, you're still going to want to download playlists and podcasts on your smartphone before hopping in your car.
Spotify will ship Car Thing with three different mounts so you can attach it to your dashboard, air vent or CD player. You can sign up to be on its waitlist right now.