Spotify has started testing a new “car mode” for its voice assistant-centric mobile app, according to a 9to5Google report. The new interface, currently only spotted by some Android users, appears to be a revamped version of the “Car View” option that Spotify removed towards the end of 2021.
Car Mode and View share a similar goal of making Spotify easier to use for drivers. Car View’s simplified appearance and larger text were designed to help the driver find and select content. Car mode doesn’t alter the screen as much, although it does reduce the amount and detail of on-screen information. Spotify hasn’t made an announcement regarding Car Mode, but the support page now includes instructions for enabling and running Car Mode on Android devices. The page says the update took place on January 20, although that may have been in anticipation of the rollout. According to the support page, car mode is automatically activated when a phone connects via Bluetooth to a car, changing to larger icons, moving the “playbar” to the bottom of the screen of the phone. The biggest difference seems to be the replacement of the search tab magnifying glass with a microphone and voice command. Spotify clearly wants to encourage drivers to use its voice assistant, woken up by “Hey, Spotify” instead of typing.
Spotify eliminated Car View as an option just as it began selling its $80 Car Thing device to the general public. The Car Thing connects to the internet through a smartphone, like the Amazon Echo Auto does with Alexa, and uses Spotify’s voice assistant to interact with drivers. The Spotify Car Thing is basically a touchscreen and control dial mounted on a vent or dash. The dial and touchscreen can also be used to navigate the Spotify platform to find content and there are four buttons at the top which can be assigned to specific playlists, podcasts or music channels.
Car Thing and car mode support page emphasize voice AI component. ReadSpeaker’s VoiceLab technology allows users to hear the voice when they say “Hey Spotify” or ask the AI to read any text on the screen. Spotify’s efforts around in-car listening make sense, especially as offices begin to reopen. This is true for both music and podcasts, as Spotify has linked its podcast publishing tool Anchor to the Spotify Audience Network marketplace for audio advertising. Car mode is probably what Spotify was referring to in a forum when Car View quit.
“We can confirm that we are removing the car view feature. However, that does not mean that we do not want to improve the way our users listen to Spotify while driving,” explained a Spotify moderator on the forum. “On the contrary , we are actively exploring a variety of new ways to deliver the best in-car listening experience. Think of the in-car vision retirement as something that needs to happen in order to make room for new innovations to come.
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