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Spotify launches a sleek standalone app for Cadillac vehicles

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Might this be even nicer than playing music with CarPlay or Android Auto?

Spotify is now available on 2017 Cadillac vehicles through a new, dedicated app that doesn’t require your phone, Bluetooth, or something like Apple CarPlay or Android Auto to use. The Spotify app, which you can install from the app shop on Cadillac’s infotainment system, streams music while you’re driving by relying on the car’s LTE mobile data connection. (The app caches several songs ahead of your current position in a playlist, just in case you drive through a cellular dead zone.)

The app’s layout and looks closely resemble what you’re already familiar with from spending countless hours playing Spotify on your smartphone. Four main virtual buttons give you quick access to Home, Recently Played, Your Library, and Browse. All of Spotify’s personalized playlists — from Discover Weekly to your daily mixes — are included. And Spotify’s new Cadillac integration is “smart” enough to recognize that you’re listening in a car. So it’ll serve up music geared toward your commute or driving instead of, say, playlists for working out or studying.

The Now Playing screen lists the usual options for track controls, shuffle, saving a song to your library, repeating a song, and so on. There’s nothing really special there, but again, it adheres to the look and feel of Spotify on other platforms.

On platforms like CarPlay and Android Auto, Spotify must follow the design and UI guidelines of Apple and Google, respectively. With this Cadillac approach, the company has more control over how everything works. Aside from tapping the screen directly, you can also use the steering wheel controls to play, pause, or adjust the volume of your music.

Most disappointing is a lack of voice commands. I think voice control needs to be a central focus of in-car apps, and Spotify agrees. The company isn’t ready to announce anything specific about voice support just yet, but it’s definitely in the works — just like on mobile.

Cadillac has also done some work on its end to make the experience a bit more seamless. Spotify has a presence on the main audio screen right beside FM and AM radio. And you can place any Spotify playlist you want in the preset station row at the top — outside the Spotify app itself — to give yourself the same single-tap access as your favorite FM stations.

The Spotify app is available on select Cadillac models including:

  • XTS
  • CTS
  • ATS
  • CTS-V
  • ATS-V

As you might suspect, it’s also coming to 2019 Cadillac models including the CT6, and there are plans to bring this version of Spotify to Chevrolet, Buick, GMC, and other General Motor brands.

So in addition to using CarPlay or Android Auto for maps, messaging, and so on, you’ve now got the option of using a standalone, fully integrated Spotify app. Some people might prefer the layout, simplicity, and consistency of how Spotify looks through Apple or Google’s car platform where the buttons are always in the same place across all audio apps.

An example of what Spotify looks like on Apple’s CarPlay.

Let me be very clear: overall, those platforms are still overwhelmingly superior to the clunky infotainment software that automakers continue to put on your dashboard. We’d be in a very sad, sorry situation if the car companies ditched them in favor of their own ecosystems and individual apps like this. No thanks. But that’s not what’s happening here; instead, you’re just getting another choice. Spotify, unsurprisingly, prefers this route.

Photography by Chris Welch / The Verge