How to identify a song using your phone

Music is everywhere. You can be in a cab or cafe, or sitting on your sofa, when a new song enters your head and takes up residence. But the sweet joy of discovering a new favorite can instantly become bitter when you can’t name that tune. Fortunately, you can get help. Here’s how to use your smartphone to identify a song.

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Google Assistant (Android or iPhone)
Photo: Simon Hill

Google has given some form of song recognition over the years, but over time it has improved significantly. Even if you don’t want the song to be played anymore, you can try humming or singing. Here’s how:

  1. On an Android device, say “Hey Google”, or touch and hold the Home button. On an iPhone, open the Google app and tap the microphone button.
  2. Ask, “What is this song?”
  3. If the song continues, Google Assistant will name it and give you a YouTube link. You can also hum, whistle or sing, and Google will suggest possible matches.

Unfortunately, this doesn’t work on Wear OS smartwatches, but you can try Shazam (see below) to get song recognition on the wrist.

Siri (iPhone)

You can use Siri to detect music on most Apple devices, including the Apple Watch, but it has to be the original version. It will not be able to sing your praises or songs.

  1. Say, “Hey Siri,” or long press the power button on an iPhone or the digital crown on an Apple Watch.
  2. Ask, “What is this song?”
  3. If the song is playing, Siri will name it and give you an Apple Music link.

Shazam (Android or iPhone)

Photo: Simon Hill

Shazam was the original music-recognition service and it offered simple extras like synced lyrics, links to some of the best music streaming services and easy sharing on social media. Apple bought Shazam in 2018, but the app is still available for Android, iOS. It also works on many of our choices for the best smartwatches.

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