Spotify ‘Car Thing’ Upgrades Voice Assistant to Play Other Media and Make Phone Calls
Spotify has augmented the Car Thing voice assistant with more features and voice commands. The upgraded AI can now play music and podcasts from other platforms, make phone calls, and set up personalized playlists, among other new capabilities.
Everything Car Thing
Spotify designed the Car Thing to make accessing the streaming platform easy for drivers who just want to listen to Spotify on the road, especially if their car lacks Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. The Car Thing update widens its functions beyond Spotify’s platform, the unsurprising central focus of the device until now. The update largely gives the device fuller access to the connected smartphone’s features. Drivers can converse with Spotify’s voice assistant, awakened by saying, “Hey, Spotify,” to access the new features. ReadSpeaker’s VoiceLab tech provides the voice for the AI, though there are also touchscreen controls.
The most notable new feature allows drivers to listen to content from non-Spotify sources. That means a user could pull up YouTube Music or Amazon Podcasts on the screen and control their playback through Spotify’s voice AI as they would through Siri or Google Assistant on their smartphone. The device will switch back to Spotify when asked or by tapping one of the preset buttons. And the phone connection will now include putting incoming phone calls on the Car Thing screen for drivers to answer or reject by voice command. The voice assistant can also add and remove songs and podcasts to a queue when asked, a frequently requested feature according to the company. The AI can also curate a playlist based on a genre, mood, or activity.
“Car Thing makes it simpler to play exactly what you want, thanks to the intuitive product interface and the ease of using “Hey Spotify” to control what you want to listen to. But there’s always room to make a great thing even better, which is why Car Thing has some new updates rolling out this week,” the company explained in an announcement. “Bringing these highly anticipated new features to Car Thing is part of Spotify’s ongoing commitment to building a truly frictionless experience for users across devices—whether in the car, at home, or on the go.”
The update to the Car Thing comes just as Spotify has begun testing a new “Car Mode” for its mobile app. The unannounced tests seem like an upgraded version of the “Car View” option that Spotify wound down late last year, but with more emphasis on the voice assistant.