Music soothes the savage beast. It’s also a great catalyst for spirited driving and the right set of songs are often the perfect companion to complement the exhaust note as you nail that heel-toe downshift along your favourite strip of asphalt on a quiet morning with the sun rising in your rear-view mirror.
We’ve all got out own playlist of driving songs and that’s something we’ll touch on another day. For now, the dilemma has always been the source of the music and how we interact with the medium playing it.
The majority are probably Spotify devotees. That’s either a Bluetooth/AUX connection to the head unit or if you’re fancy, Android Auto or Apple CarPlay.
Now depending on said head unit, your interaction with it can be limited to just volume and not even skipping songs or all the way up to full control of Spotify via the touchscreen. For the former, that still means using your phone to skip songs or swap playlists.
Although most modern vehicles come with touchscreens at the very least or some integrated software for music interaction, Spotify has taken it upon itself to answer a question nobody actually asked with its first piece of hardware.
Delightfully named the Car Thing, the simple device has a number of lovely touches but its primary purpose is as a physical interface between the Spotify app and your vehicle’s head unit so your phone can stay out of sight.
Think of the Car Thing as a physical manifestation of Spotify on your dashboard. However, it doesn’t replace the head unit or radio and neither does it negate the need for a phone. You’ll still need both of those to keep the tunes piped in.
See what we mean by answering a question nobody asked?
The sequence of events will see your smartphone still providing the music through the Spotify app and the data to stream said songs via the head unit or radio that sends it to the speakers. You’re just able to interact with the Spotify app easily.
The device itself looks pretty slick and it has a knob; something of a dying breed in the modern car. Above the touchscreen are five well-spaced buttons; four of which are presets and one for muting. Below the knob is a back button. Unfortunately, the knob isn’t for volume control but to scroll and navigate the menu. Alternatively, you can use the voice controls.
One of the downsides here is the power source. The Car Thing needs to be plugged in to the 12V outlet permanently. Unless you go the extra mile to tuck the wire out of the way, you’ll be left with an unsightly wire dangling down the centre stack. We’re pretty sure they could’ve found a better way to keep it powered, like a built-in battery that needs to be charged every few days.
For now, the Car Thing is only available in the USA for free. Once it fully rolls out, it’ll be priced at USD80 (RM328); hardly a reasonable price but still much cheaper than purchasing an Android Auto or Apple CarPlay aftermarket head unit for the kind of interaction with Spotify from a screen.