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Circuit Breaker

Spotify’s first hardware device might be this music player for your car

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Earlier today, Spotify announced it would be sharing news at an April 24th event. It’s unclear whether the company is planning to unveil hardware later this month in New York City, but evidence suggests that Spotify has been working on an in-car controller — or even a standalone player — for the streaming service that would allow drivers to control music playback with their voice.

Back in February, several Spotify customers reported that they received an offer inside the app for a new device that would come included as part of a $12.99-per-month subscription. That price would cover both Spotify’s music service and the device itself if users agreed to a 12-month commitment totaling $155. The device has a circular design with physical buttons for track controls and shuffle, plus an LED running around the outside in Spotify’s signature green.

When reached by The Verge, Spotify declined to comment.

Another user claimed that Spotify showed them a different $14.99 price point and advertised support for Amazon’s Alexa assistant. For some, Spotify detailed built-in 4G mobile data so that the device could function independently of a smartphone. In every case where it appeared, the prompt only came up once and never returned. Sightings of it basically vanished after February. Still, the number of people who received this message tells me that the image is legitimate and was accidentally sent out far ahead of schedule by Spotify. There’s nothing to suggest it will launch at this month’s event, however.

Outside of Reddit, the device has been mentioned on Spotify’s support forums but drew little attention, with forum administrators dismissing it as a test. “We’re always testing things to improve Spotify,” is the usual response line. “Right now we don’t have any news on this, but we’ve let the right team know it’s something you’d like to see,” a moderator wrote in response to another thread on the subject.

Spotify has put out job listings for hardware projects, and the company is actively testing voice commands on its smartphone app. Conventional wisdom would point to Spotify building its own speaker in the vein of Apple’s HomePod.

But the car is a wise focus. Spotify recently rolled out a native player app for Cadillac vehicles and confirmed to The Verge that it views voice control (currently absent from that software) as an important component of the in-car experience. Spotify’s current car integration includes apps for Apple’s CarPlay and Android Auto.

Thanks, Trevor!