Spotify Starts Testing Voice-Focused ‘Car Mode’ 4 Months After Ending ‘Car View’
Spotify has begun testing a new “Car Mode” for its mobile app centered on its voice assistant, according to a 9to5Google report. The new interface, currently only spotted by some Android users, appears to be a revamped version of the “Car View” option that Spotify wound down near the end of 2021.
Car Mode and View share a similar goal of simplifying using Spotify for drivers. Car View’s streamlined look and larger text were designed for a driver to find and select content. Car Mode doesn’t change the screen nearly as much, though it does cut down the amount and detail of information on the screen. Spotify hasn’t made an announcement about Car Mode, but the support page now includes instructions for activating and running Car Mode on Android devices. The page indicates the update happened on January 20, though that may have been in anticipation of the rollout. According to the support page, Car Mode will turn on automatically when a phone connects by Bluetooth to a car, switching to larger icons, moving the ‘playing bar’ to the bottom of the phone’s screen. The biggest difference looks to be the replacement of the search tab’s magnifying glass with a microphone and voice control. Spotify clearly wants to encourage drivers to use its voice assistant, awakened by “Hey, Spotify” instead of typing.
Spotify eliminated Car View as an option just as it began selling its $80 Car Thing device to the general public. The Car Thing connects to the internet through a smartphone, as the Amazon Echo Auto does with Alexa, and uses Spotify’s voice assistant to interact with drivers. The Spotify Car Thing is essentially a touchscreen and control dial mounted on a vent or dashboard. The dial and touchscreen can also be used to navigate through Spotify’s platform to find content and there are four buttons on top that can be assigned to specific playlists, podcasts, or music channels.
Both the Car Thing and the support page for Car Mode emphasize the voice AI component. ReadSpeaker’s VoiceLab tech provides the voice users hear when they say “Hey Spotify” or ask the AI to read any text on the screen. Spotify’s efforts around listening in cars make sense, especially as offices begin to reopen. That’s true for both music and podcasts, as Spotify has tied its Anchor podcast publishing tool to the Spotify Audience Network marketplace for audio advertising. Car Mode is likely what Spotify was hinting at in a forum when Car View shut down.
“We can confirm that we’re retiring the car view feature. This however doesn’t mean we don’t want to improve on how our users listen to Spotify while driving,” a Spotify moderator explained on the forum. “On the contrary, we’re actively exploring a variety of new ways to deliver the best in-car listening experience. Think of retiring car-view as something that needs to happen in an effort to make way for new innovations coming down the track.”