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(Pocket-lint) - Spotify has developed a smart media player for vehicles. It's called Car Thing, and it comes with support for "Hey Spotify" voice commands.

For the initial product launch, Spotify said it would give out Car Thing for free to a limited group of Premium subscribers in the US. Now, it's expanding availability and charging $89.99 for the device. Here's what you need to know about Car Thing, including how to get one.

Read more: What is Spotify and how does it work?

What is Spotify's Car Thing?

In its blog post announcing Car Thing, Spotify described the device as a "smart player that fills your car with music, news, entertainment, talk, and more."

It features a physical dial on the front along with a 4-inch touchscreen, four microphones at the top, and four preset buttons for controls. You can control your car's audio through Car Thing using either "Hey Spotify" commands or the device's dial, screen, and preset buttons. 

Car Thing requires a Spotify Premium subscription, and, of course, an iOS or Android smartphone with Wi-Fi or mobile data connection.

SpotifyWhat is Spotify Car Thing? Plus how to get it for free photo 6

How does Spotify's Car Thing work?

Think of Car Thing as an infotainment center, but one that plays content from the Spotify library. It needs to pair with your smartphone over Bluetooth for a data connection. You can then use Bluetooth, AUX, or a USB cable to connect to your car's audio system. Car Thing doesn't have a speaker.

Voice search

With Car Thing, you can use Spotify's voice search to quickly play specific music or podcasts. Just say "Hey Spotify", and then ask for a song, album, artist, playlist, station, or podcast. Spotify said Car Thing will be able to understand what you're asking to play, "even with the music turned up or your windows down."

Go hands-on

If for whatever reason you don't want to control Car Thing with your voice, you can use the device's dial. It lets you browse, select, play, pause, and discover music or podcast to listen to in the Spotify library. Clearly, Car Thing is more or less a dedicated Spotify remote for your car with a screen and microphones.

See what you're playing

At any time, you can look at Car Thing's touchscreen display to see what's playing. You can also use the screen to see your library and results from voice search. Or, you can use the touchscreen to navigate around Car Thing's interface. Just swipe to browse further or skip, or you can tap to play. Simples.

Set your favourites

Car Thing's four preset buttons let you access your favourites faster, such as a new podcast episode. These are customisable, so you can change them.

Answer calls on Car Thing

Car Thing, following an update in April 2022, can now also be used to answer calls. You'll be able to see incoming calls, answer or dismiss them. Currently this only works for iOS, but it will be coming to Android soon.

Control other media apps

Spotify pushed an update in April 2022 that allows for the control of other media apps. We don't have a complete list of supported apps, but it means that it's now a little more diverse than just offering Spotify support.

How much does Spotify's Car Thing cost?

Car Thing costs $89.99 and is currently only available in the US. You can buy it directly from Spotify.

Want to know more?

Check out Spotify's blog post here and Car Thing webpage for more details.

Writing by Maggie Tillman. Editing by Chris Hall.