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Spotify's Car Thing just got less useless but it's still weird

Car Thing
Car Thing (Image credit: Spotify)

What you need to know

  • Spotify has announced an update to the Car Thing's software.
  • Car Thing can now answer phone calls.
  • Those wanting to control other in-car media using their Car Thing are in luck!

Spotify has released a new software update for its weird Car Thing accessory that gives it some useful features including support for answering phone calls.

The Car Thing is an accessory designed to be used in cars and give Spotify users a safer way to interact with their music and podcasts than poking at their iPhones. That it does, although it's all still a bit on the strange side and nowhere near as good as just using the CarPlay functionality that so many cars come with nowadays. However, if you already bought your Car Thing there's good news — you can now answer phone calls and control other media, too.

Spotify announced the improvements via a Newsroom post, saying that "there's always room to make a great thing even better." Ignoring whether anyone can call the Car Thing great or not, the new features are worth calling out — because they're big updates for those who have a Car Thing strapped to their vehicle.

Here's the "full scoop on all the new features," as Spotify says:

  • Answer phone calls seamlessly*: You can now see, answer, and dismiss incoming calls via Car Thing.
  • Control other media*: You can now play and control other media on the Car Thing device. Easily switch back to Spotify by using presets, or voice, or simply tapping the screen.
  • Add to queue: One of our most requested features—the ability to queue additional songs and podcasts—is also now available. You can access it in a few different ways:
    • 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: Just say "Hey Spotify, queue 'drivers license'" or whatever track you'd like to listen to next!
    • View your queue: Say "Hey Spotify, open my queue" or press and keep holding the dial when in the "Now Playing" view.
  • Use voice to get a personalized playlist for any mood: Simply ask for any genre, mood, or activity that describes the kind of music you want to hear. For example, say "Hey Spotify, play cozy Sunday RnB," and we'll do our best to instantly create a personalized playlist from your request. This feature is available wherever "Hey Spotify" is available.

Concerned about those little stars beside the more interesting improvements? Don't be — those stars mean that those features are only available to iOS users which, if you're reading this, you probably are. If you've stumbled here on an Android phone though, be warned, those features are a no-go for now at least.

Everyone who already has a Car Thing should be seeing the updates roll in. Everyone else can bag their new automobile whatsit for $90 direct from Spotify now.

Oliver Haslam
Oliver Haslam

Oliver Haslam has written about Apple and the wider technology business for more than a decade with bylines on How-To Geek, PC Mag, iDownloadBlog, and many more. He has also been published in print for Macworld, including cover stories. At iMore, Oliver is involved in daily news coverage and, not being short of opinions, has been known to 'explain' those thoughts in more detail, too.

Having grown up using PCs and spending far too much money on graphics card and flashy RAM, Oliver switched to the Mac with a G5 iMac and hasn't looked back. Since then he's seen the growth of the smartphone world, backed by iPhone, and new product categories come and go. Current expertise includes iOS, macOS, streaming services, and pretty much anything that has a battery or plugs into a wall. Oliver also covers mobile gaming for iMore, with Apple Arcade a particular focus. He's been gaming since the Atari 2600 days and still struggles to comprehend the fact he can play console quality titles on his pocket computer.

1 Comment
  • The Car Thing is an accessory designed for use in cars and offering Spotify users a safer way to interact with their music and podcasts than swiping their iPhone. It does, although it’s all still a little weird and nowhere near as good as just using the CarPlay functionality that so many cars come with these days. However, if you’ve already purchased your Car Thing, there’s good news: you can now answer phone calls and control other media as well. Spotify announced the improvements via a newsroom post, saying that “there’s always room to improve yet another great thing.” Not knowing if anyone can call the Car Thing awesome or not, the new features are worth pointing out, as they’re big updates for those who have a Car Thing attached to their vehicle.