Shazam (iPhone app)

This free iPhone app identifies songs that you play to it and then tells you what they are

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  • Expert Rating

    4.50 / 5

Pros

  • Let's you find out what that song is called, free

Cons

  • Doesn't cope with live music well, may cause your iTunes bill to soar.

Bottom Line

It's free. You will want to use it at least once a week. Get it now.

Would you buy this?

If you have ever wondered about the name of a song on radio, or wanted to know the name of the band whose song is playing in a store then Shazam is for you. This free iPhone app records a snippet of a song then identifies it.

To get started, you simply need to click the "Tag Now" button on the top-right of the screen. Shazam will then record a 10-second sample of a song using the iPhone's microphone. The app encodes the sample and sends it to the Shazam servers. If the song is recognised, you will get a results screen with a picture of the album cover and the name of the artist, the song and the album.

You can't identify all songs. Shazam will normally only recognise songs that have been released on an album or as a single. Live music won't be recognised and neither will whistling or humming. If there is too much noise around you, the app may also have difficulty. You will usually have enough time to get a second sample and have another attempt at identifying the music.

Shazam keeps a record of the songs you have tagged, and has a small wizard which lets you sort in different orders, such as by tagging date or by artist name.

Once you have tagged a song, you are also able to send an e-mail with the song details preloaded by simply clicking on the "Share tag" button. We can't recommend this as a pickup tool when a cute girl asks for the name of a song that's playing at a party — but at least you'll get her e-mail address.

If you want to hear the song once you've tagged it, you will usually have a few options. Shazam will give you a list of links to the song on YouTube and a link to the song on iTunes, so you can hear the preview or purchase it right then.

If you tagged a song because the singer's voice sounded familiar but you don't recognise the band's name, you can click on the artist biography button. This shows you a biography from All Music Guide. For some albums you will also be able to read a review.

In areas without mobile reception or Wi-Fi access, Shazam can store a sample and look up the song later.

There are a few things that could be improved. Some of the Aussie music on Triple-J is often not recognised despite being available for purchase from iTunes. It would also be great to be able to use this app to identify songs that play while you use other apps (the YouTube app, for example). This is probably a failing of the iPhone architecture rather than Shazam itself, however.

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