Hum to Search: Google Debuts Song-Finding Feature


There was a time, not too long ago, that if one heard a song on the radio, or in a restau­rant, and they didn’t know the song, they had no way of dis­cov­er­ing what the song was, aside from asking some­one else if they knew what it was.

When the ear­li­est smart­phones emerged, there was sud­den­ly an option: Phone users could open Google, per­form a Google search for the lyrics, and find the song that way. This was an imper­fect solu­tion, but one that was suc­cess­ful in some cases.

Verizon, back in the era of V Cast, introduced something called “Song ID” in 2007. “You can now hear a song, hold the phone toward the music so it can iden­ti­fy the music, and pur­chase a full-track song, Ringtone or Ringback tone — all right over-the-air from your phone,” Verizon said of the fea­ture.

But the real game chang­er was Shazam, an app that traced its devel­op­ment back to the 1990s, but really gained ground when Apple added the App Store and third party apps to the iPhone in 2008. Shazam allowed users to press a button and rec­og­nize any song, in a way that seemed to solve the “what’s that song?” prob­lem defin­i­tive­ly. Shazam was widely seen as one of the first break­through apps to emerge from the early App Store, the kind of app that easily solved an every­day prob­lem.

Apple ended up buying Shazam, for a report­ed  $400 mil­lion, in 2017.

But great as Shazam is, it only works when the actual song is play­ing. If you remem­ber how a song goes, but don’t know what it is, or even any of the words, then Shazam can’t help you.

But into the breach has stepped Google, with the arrival of a new fea­ture called “Hum to Search.”

“Do you know that song that goes, “da daaaa da da daaaa na naa naa ooohh yeah”? Or the one that starts with the guitar chords going, “da na na naa”? We all know how frus­trat­ing it is when you can’t remem­ber the name of a song or any of the words but the tune is stuck in your head,” Krishna Kumar, the senior prod­uct man­ag­er for the Google Search divi­sion, said in a blog post Friday.

That’s why Google has intro­duced Hum to Search, which can be used on any mobile device with a Google widget or Google app.

“On your mobile device, open the latest ver­sion of the Google app or find your Google Search widget, tap the mic icon and say “what’s this song?” or click the “Search a song” button. Then start hum­ming for 10 – 15 sec­onds,” the blog post says. “On Google Assistant, it’s just as simple. Say “Hey Google, what’s this song?” and then hum the tune.”

The func­tion­al­i­ty works through machine learn­ing models, Google’s post says.

Stephen Silver, a tech­nol­o­gy writer for The National Interest, is a jour­nal­ist, essay­ist and film critic, who is also a con­trib­u­tor to Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage mag­a­zine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in sub­ur­ban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.

Image: Reuters

National Interest source|articles

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