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Spotify's simplified Car View mode is being 'retired'

When Spotify announced its stripped down Car View mode in 2019, it seemed like a smart way to prevent drivers from being distracted on the road. Whenever you connected to your car over Bluetooth, it would remove extraneous elements like menu buttons and album art. Instead, it gave you large buttons to pause and play music; jump to the previous or next track; or like a specific song. Nifty! But hope you didn’t get too attached, as Spotify has confirmed it’s “retiring” the feature, according to a recent support thread (via Android Police).

A Spotify moderator, who was replying to a user who noticed the feature had disappeared from his Android app, noted that Spotify is “actively exploring a variety of new ways to deliver the best in-car listening experience.” They added that removing car view is necessary to “make way for new innovations.” That’s reasonable enough, though it doesn’t excuse dumping a genuinely useful safety feature without a clear replacement. 

The moderator suggested using Google Assistant (or Siri on iOS) to control Spotify hands-free, something that would also work while navigating with Google or Apple Maps. And, to be fair, that’s how many people (including myself) end up controlling tunes on the road. 

It could be that Spotify is de-prioritizing Car View simply because there are so many other ways to handle music playback in cars. If you’ve got a modern car with CarPlay or Android Auto support, you’ll only be interacting with your in-dash display and will never see Car View in action. Many vehicles made in the last decade also have some sort of media control on their steering wheels.  

Spotify Car Thing
Billy Steele/Engadget

Of course, there’s a more nefarious objective, as some Spotify users mentioned in the forum thread. It could be that the company is trying to push people towards Car Thing, its $80 display accessory. We found it to be a useful upgrade for older cars, but it also seemed superfluous when you could just mount your phone and control Spotify directly. Without Car View mode, though, that strange gadget all of a sudden seems more helpful. In cases like this, though, the simplest explanation usually comes down to companies realizing certain features aren’t being used much.

We’ve reached out to Spotify for a full explanation about Car View’s retirement, and will update when we hear back.

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