The ability to use a smartphone to tell you what a certain song is has been around for years. Siri can do it thanks to an integration with Shazam, and before that I used to use an app called SoundHound that did the job pretty well. But until now, you could only identify songs that were actually playing around you. That’s great most of the time, but what if you’ve got a melody stuck in your head but the song isn’t on? You can’t just hum into your phone and get anything useful back. I’ve never seen anyone do it, at any rate.
Enter Google and some fancy machine learning.
Starting today, you can hum, whistle or sing a melody to Google to solve your earworm. 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. On Google Assistant, it’s just as simple. Say “Hey Google, what’s this song?” and then hum the tune. This feature is currently available in English on iOS, and in more than 20 languages on Android. And we hope to expand this to more languages in the future.
After you’re finished humming, our machine learning algorithm helps identify potential song matches. And don’t worry, you don’t need perfect pitch to use this feature. We’ll show you the most likely options based on the tune. Then you can select the best match and explore information on the song and artist, view any accompanying music videos or listen to the song on your favorite music app, find the lyrics, read analysis and even check out other recordings of the song when available.
They say no perfect pitch is required, but I’m curious how bad you have to be before the thing just gives up. I know some legendarily terrible hummers. I’ve got an uncle who somehow manages to make every song he asks me about sound exactly the same, and none of them have much in the way of what I would consider identifiable notes. I’d love to try this on him one day.