Back in May 2019, Spotify announced that it would be publicly testing a voice-controlled smart assistant for cars that the company called “Car Thing.” But nearly two years on, we haven’t heard much from the project — though that might change soon. A Car Thing with a totally new design and a bigger screen has appeared in FCC filings.
This new version of the Car Thing seems like it will function similarly to the 2019 version — it’s a “voice controlled accessory for phone/Spotify App with supporting display and buttons,” according to a description found in the filings. “Bluetooth enabled for communication with the Car Head Unit. Powered from a 12V outlet,” continues the description, bluntly.
The design, though, is radically different. The new Car Thing looks almost like a mini-tablet, with some kind of button and a large knob. It’s pictured at the top of this post. Compare it to this image from Spotify of the version it announced in 2019:
And if you want to get a better look at the newer version, we’ve collected some photos from the new FCC filings in this gallery, including a few of the device powered on. Disappointingly, though, it’s hard to tell anything about how the device actually works from the photos, or what the software looks like.
It’s also unclear if this is a product people will ever be able to get their hands on. A product hitting the FCC doesn’t necessarily mean that it will be released for the general public. And we never heard much about the 2019 version of the Car Thing following its initial announcement (though that one also had a trip through the FCC).
“Spotify is focused on becoming the world’s number one audio platform, and we’re continuing tests of a voice-controlled music and podcast device to help us learn more about how people listen to audio in the car,” the company said in a statement to The Verge after the original publication of this article. “While we don’t have any further news to share at this time, we’re always testing and seeking feedback from our users before rolling out new features or products broadly.”
Update January 14th, 8:17PM ET: Added statement from Spotify.