Spotify says it’s retiring its Car View feature, which was introduced at the beginning of 2019 as a way to make the app less distracting and easier to control while driving (via 9to5Google). It’s currently unclear if the feature is going away on all platforms or just Android, and while some users won’t miss it, many others are unhappy it’s being removed without a reasonable replacement.
Confirmation of the change actually came back in October, when a Spotify moderator responded to a post on its community forum asking why the feature was missing. The moderator wrote:
We can confirm that we’re retiring the car view feature. This however doesn’t mean we don’t want to improve on how our users listen to Spotify while driving. On the contrary, we’re actively exploring a variety of new ways to deliver the best in-car listening experience. Think of retiring car-view as something that needs to happen in an effort to make way for new innovations coming down the track.
Please bear with us for the time being. While we work backstage on improving the experience, one alternative would be to listen hands-free via Google Assistant. This feature also works with Google Maps so you can navigate while listening to Spotify. In order to do that, you can link your accounts and say ‘Hey Google, play Spotify’.
“We’re actively exploring a variety of new ways to deliver the best in-car listening experience”
A follow-up comment from another moderator mentioned that Spotify was “also retiring certain features like [its] in-car Now Playing View for Android,” again to make way for new features.
As Android Police points out, this plan has upset many users — in the comments section for the post, people say that removing the Car View made it harder for them to use Spotify safely while driving. Some have also accused Spotify of removing Car View to sell its $80 Car Thing device, which acts as a display and remote control for the music streaming service and is currently only available to Premium subscribers via a waitlist.
At the moment, Car View still works on my iPhone, but not on my Android device. The Android app’s settings screen does have a Car section, but it only contains a button to set up a Car Thing and text that reads “always pay full attention to the road and abide with all traffic regulations.” Spotify didn’t immediately respond to request for clarification from The Verge on whether it planned to retire Car View on all platforms.
If Spotify does remove Car View from its iOS app, you’ll still be able to control your music hands-free with Siri by adding “on Spotify” on the end of any voice command. (For example: “play Adele on Spotify.” Saying “next track” or “pause” will also work if music is currently playing from the service.) Siri can remember your preferred streaming service, so you may not always have to ask it to use Spotify, but in typical Siri fashion that feature can be a little flaky.
On Android, you can have Google Assistant default to using Spotify, and on both platforms you can activate Spotify controls within Google Maps (though the buttons are significantly smaller than they are in Spotify’s Car View). Some cars will also let you control Spotify via CarPlay, or Android Auto. You can run the latter on your phone’s screen as well, which will give you a similar interface to Car View.
Spotify’s moderators haven’t responded in the thread (which has over 108 comments) with any estimate on when users can expect a replacement for Car View, or what that replacement will look like. It seems difficult to believe that Spotify couldn’t have kept the feature active while working on a replacement, but it seems determined to keep going down this road given the lack of replies during the past month. We asked Spotify if the user backlash affected its plans, and will update this story if we hear back.