Spotify released its Car Thing accessory last year, 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 more useful overall.
An update rolling out this week adds the ability to see, answer, and reject incoming calls from a connected smartphone, allowing you to use Car Thing for hands-free calls. The device can also be used to play and control media coming from a phone, even if it’s not 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 with an iOS device, with Android support coming “at a later date”.
The Spotify experience will also be updated. You can now add music and podcasts to the current playing queue using a variety of methods: tap Add to Queue next to a track, hold down the physical dial with a track selected, or ask “Hey Spotify, Queue” with a song title.
Spotify currently sells Car Thing for $89.99 (including shipping). 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 a specific streaming service, the Anchor Roav Bolt with Google Assistant or echo car with Alexa, both are capable alternatives, although neither product has a touchscreen or physical watch face.
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 started testing it on Android last month and could roll it out to everyone in the near future.