Want to know what song is playing in the bar? There’s an app for that. It’s called Shazam. You point it at the speaker, it listens, consults a database and spits back the answer at you. Amazing, brilliant and all the rest. Except that it’s flawed: Shazam tags very precisely – it’ll let you know that it’s the 1972 live version, for instance.
Even more impressive for that, you might think, and you’d be right. But in that bar, it struggles to recognise music if there’s too much hubbub. All too often in a noisy environment it draws a sonic blank.
That’s where SoundHound comes in. It might not be able to pinpoint exactly which rare bootleg you’re listening to (in fact, both apps struggle with more obscure titles), but it’ll make a decent fist of recognising whatever you throw at it. You don’t even need to play the record.
Sing the chorus of Yellow Submarine and, in seconds, it returns the well-known version from The Beatles Revolver album, plus a Hit Crew cover and a tribute band’s effort. You don’t – this reviewer can attest honestly – even have to sing well.
You can also search by text or speech (like Google’s Voice Search) to find artist and record information. Don’t know the words? Just hum. Fine, it’s not as accurate as Shazam, but it’s stacks more fun (though you’ll probably feel stupid humming at it in public) and it’s vagueness can be more useful than Shazam’s flat denial. For our money (it’s free), SoundHound’s got a bright future.