Car, er, Kitchen Thing?

Car, er, Kitchen Thing?

I purchased a Spotify Car Thing, and mounted it in my kitchen. It’s neat, try it if you find one for cheap.

This is a little mini post to show off a thing. But it’s in the kitchen. What’s going on here? This isn’t where I parked my car.

This is a Spotify Car Thing. Go read about it if you want detail, it’s essentially an appliance for your car that provides a nice, responsive UI for Spotify (Premium accounts only), meant especially to supplement older vehicles that lack Apple CarPlay or Android Auto. I bought one on a lark, but our vehicle is new enough that it has full support for iOS and Android’s automotive UIs, so not worth taking up the dash space. Of course I didn’t want to just put it on the shelf. My frugal Pennsylvania Dutch forebears would likely scowl at my disposable income habits as it is.

What Does This Thing Do?

As I stepped through first time setup, the realization set in that Car Thing has exactly one job: it’s a remote control for Spotify on your phone. Car Thing does not care what you phone’s output device is: car stereo, TV soundbar, or any Spotify Connect linked device. This latter option opens the door to using Car Thing to control Spotify playback on a desktop or laptop, albeit you have to start playback on your phone first then transfer/connect to the other device.

My initial idea was to do like this YouTube video (Credit to Chris Xia), mount Car Thing as a remote control for Spotify on the desktop. The wife however suggested the kitchen, which made much more sense as it’s really the next location after our car where Spotify is most in use. An Amazon Echo device is present in that room anyway which we use as a Bluetooth speaker; practically identical to the use case for Car Thing in a vehicle.

How Do I Set Up This Thing?

A few recommendations from my experience; some are specific to this use case, but others applicable across all attempts at use of this device.

1) Just skip the mounting step in Car Thing’s setup process, and skip trying to make their hardware work. Spend the money on a mount fit for your purpose. I went with a “ClutchIt” magnetic phone holder off of Amazon.

  • I’m sure that more permanent and flexible mounting solutions are possible, but as we rent I opted to do this in as impermanent and non-destructive a manner as possible.

2) I opted to mount under the kitchen cabinets using the 3M adhesive that came with the mount I bought. If your cabinets are made of particleboard, I do recommend taking some sandpaper to the desired spot and sanding down to consistent, smooth surface, then apply rubbing alcohol to the spot and hardware as you would with other adhesive hooks and mounts. My first mounting attempt failed as the base grabbed bits off of the particleboard in it’s endeavor to obey the law of gravity.

3) Power delivery is something you need to consider. Car Thing is, in a word, temperamental, about if it’s getting enough power. I used a spare adapter I knew could provide the necessary output, then gaffer-taped the cable up underneath the cabinets, tucking much of the excess into a void between two. Power connection into the device itself is USB type C male.

  • This Reddit thread provided helpful advice.

  • Per u/rickoroni, holding the face button and the top right settings button will override the wrong adapter error screen.

  • You should also plan out your adapter and cable such that you can deliver 12W of power to the device. (u/mattsuda’s comment)

4) Generally speaking, the Car Thing will put your phone in Driving Mode while connected via bluetooth. I haven’t figured out a good workaround to this, so I recommend turning off the Car Thing when not in use. (Hold down the rightmost button along the top edge)

It’s a neat little device, and definitely easier to interact with in the midst of cooking or cleaning than getting out and unlocking a phone. If you have one and end up changing vehicles, or find a used unit for cheap but don’t want it in your car, try mounting it in your home. Let me know how it goes.