Music is everywhere. You could be in a cab or a café, or sitting on your couch, when a new song finds its way into your head and takes up residence. But the sweet joy of discovering a fresh favorite can turn bitter in an instant when you can’t name that tune. Luckily, you can get help. Here's how to use your smartphone to identify a song.
Special offer for Gear readers: Get a 1-year subscription to WIRED for $5 ($25 off). This includes unlimited access to WIRED.com and our print magazine (if you'd like). Subscriptions help fund the work we do every day.
Google Assistant (Android or iPhone)
Google has offered some form of song recognition for years now, but it has improved significantly over time. Even if the song you want is no longer playing, you can try humming or singing it. Here’s how:
- 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.
- Ask, “What’s this song?”
- If the song is playing, Google Assistant will name it and give you a YouTube link. You can also hum, whistle, or sing the melody, and Google will suggest potential matches.
Sadly, this doesn't work on Wear OS smartwatches, but you can try Shazam (see below) to get song recognition on your wrist.
You can use Siri to identify a song on most Apple devices, including the Apple Watch, but it has to be the original version. It won't recognize your humming or singing.
- Say, “Hey Siri,” or long-press the power button on an iPhone or the digital crown on an Apple Watch.
- Ask, “What’s this song?”
- If the song is playing, Siri will name it and give you an Apple Music link.
Shazam (Android or iPhone)
Shazam was the original music-recognition service and it offers handy extras like synced lyrics, links to some of the best music streaming services, and easy sharing on social media. Apple acquired Shazam in 2018, but the app is still available for Android, as well as iOS. It also works on many of our picks for the best smartwatches.
- Open the app and tap the Shazam button to identify a song.
- To add a Shazam shortcut on iPhone, go to Settings, Control Center, then tap the Add button next to Music Recognition. You now have a Shazam button in Control Center. On an Android device, you can tap and hold the Shazam app in the app drawer, then tap Shazam Now.
- If you want Shazam on in the background so it can continue to identify what is playing around you, you can turn on Auto Shazam by opening the app and touching and holding the Shazam button.
Now Playing (Google Pixel Phones Only)
If you have a Pixel 2 or later Google Pixel phone, there’s a handy feature called Now Playing that's built in. Here’s how to use it:
- Go to Settings, Sound and vibration, Advanced, and then Now Playing.
- Toggle on Identify Songs Playing Nearby. When you first turn it on, your Pixel will download the song database.
- All you need to do is glance at your lock screen to see the title and artist of any song that’s playing. You can also find a complete track history in Settings, Sound and Vibration, Advanced, Now Playing, Now Playing History.