(Hopefully) Helpful Hint: Name That Tune

We’ve all been there at some point – you hear a song on the radio that you fall in love with instantly, but have no idea what it is. Or you hear the track in the background of a TV show, love it, and have no idea what it is. Or you hear a tune over the supermarket P.A. system and it makes you forget all about trawling for decent strawberries, even though you have no idea what it is. Maybe you could find it by doing a lyric search if you could remember enough of the words by the time you got home. Or maybe not.

These situations are why music recognition apps became so popular so quickly when the smartphones came to live with us. When a song jolts you to attention, just grab your phone and fire up your sound app so it can listen. If the track is recognized in the app’s database, you instantly get the title, artist — and often a link to buy and download the song right then and there. It’s a beautiful bit of instant gratification.

For those who haven’t used a music recognition app before, there are two major players in the space: Shazam and SoundHound.

Shazam, shown below, is available in a few ad-supported editions or in a paid version that runs about $6 or $7, depending on your platform.  And you can get versions of it for a number of mobile devices and platforms.

shazam

As shown below, there’s also the SoundHound app, which is available as well on the four major mobile operating systems. SoundHound claims to be faster at the recognition says it can even pinpoint tunes you sing or hum. It, too, is available in a free ad-supported edition or for $6 or $7 depending on your platform. Like Shazam, it also grabs lyrics to the songs it identifies.

soundhound

The paid versions of the programs usually throw in a few more features, but losing the splat of ads all over the screen is worth the cost for many people. Shazam and SoundHound aren’t the only music-lookup and discovery apps put there, and if you don’t like them, search your app store.

If you use Google Now, though, you can ask it to listen in and give you the name of the current song playing on your computer or radio. If Google Now can nail the tune, it cheerfully announced the title and offers to sell you the track from the Google Play store, as shown below.

google_now

And Apple’s usually helpful Siri assistant? Siri doesn’t do music-recognition. And frankly, she seems a little defensive about it.

siri

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