Spotify released its ‘Car Thing’ accessory last year, which is a touchscreen control panel for playing Spotify content in a car. The player only makes sense for people who use Spotify all the time and don’t have a car with Android Auto or Apple CarPlay, but now Spotify is updating Car Thing to make it generally more useful.
An update rolling out this week adds the ability to see, answer, and dismiss incoming phone calls from a connected smartphone, so you can use Car Thing for hands-free calling. The device can also be used to play and control media coming from a phone, even if it’s not from Spotify — you can switch back to the music service by tapping the screen or using a voice command. However, these features currently only work when Car Thing is paired to an iOS device, with Android support coming “at a later date.”
The Spotify experience is also being updated. You can now add music and podcasts to the current playback queue, using a few different methods: tapping ‘Add to queue’ next to a song, holding down the physical dial with a song selected, or asking “Hey Spotify, queue” with a song name.
Spotify currently sells Car Thing for $89.99 (including shipping) at carthing.spotify.com. You need an active Spotify Premium subscription to purchase and use it. If you’re looking for a car audio adapter/controller that isn’t tied to one specific streaming service, the Anker Roav Bolt with Google Assistant or Echo Auto with Alexa are both capable alternatives, though neither product has a touchscreen or physical dial.
Spotify is also working on an updated car interface for the regular mobile app, intended as a successor to the old ‘Car View’ layout. The company began testing it last month on Android, and could roll out to everyone in the near future.