Last December, Apple announced plans to acquire music-discovery service Shazam. The service, which makes iOS, watchOS, and macOS apps that can detect songs, TV shows, and advertisements from their sound signatures, has been on Apple’s platforms since the early days of iOS and is the engine behind Siri’s ability to recognize songs.
Since February, the deal has been on hold while the European Commission considered whether it would adversely impact competition. In a press release today, Commissioner Margrethe Vestager, who is in charge of competition policy, explained:
“Data is key in the digital economy. We must therefore carefully review transactions which lead to the acquisition of important sets of data, including potentially commercially sensitive ones, to ensure they do not restrict competition. After thoroughly analysing Shazam’s user and music data, we found that their acquisition by Apple would not reduce competition in the digital music streaming market.”
Elaborating on the Commission’s findings, Vestager said the Commission concluded that “Apple and Shazam mainly offer complementary services and do not compete with each other.”
There has been no official word from Apple on the Commission’s decision, but it should clear the way to allow that deal to be consummated soon.
Past MacStories coverage of Shazam is available here.
When Apple acquired Shazam, people wondered what would become of the popular song identification and music discovery app. It’s not unusual for an app acquired by a big company to be pulled from the App Store or for development to slow substantially. Questions were also raised about whether Shazam would continue to support Apple’s music streaming rival, Spotify.
As it turns out, Shazam has continued to be updated and support Spotify since Apple’s acquisition. In fact, there have been at least four updates to Shazam since the acquisition including one today that adds synchronized lyrics and a design refresh of the app’s results screen.
The new UI looks great. The results screen is dominated by a background image of the artist. In the foreground is a big play button, the name of the song the app recognized, and the name of the artist. If you tap on the artwork, you get an image of the artist and album in some cases, plus more details on the artist, album, song, and release date.
Along the top of the results screen is a menu you access by swiping horizontally that includes lyrics, videos, additional songs by the artist, and related artists. If you swipe over to the lyrics screen while a song is playing, they are displayed in perfect synchronization with the song that’s playing, which is perfect for impromptu karaoke moments. Adding songs to Apple Music and Spotify playlists has been streamlined too – it now takes one less tap to add a song to a playlist.
One thing to keep in mind though, is that if you’re using the iOS 11.3 beta, playback is broken throughout the app. Tapping on any play button freezes the entire UI and requires you to force quit the app. Playback works as expected if you’re not on the beta, however.
Shazam is available on the App Store.
Myke was surprised by Apple’s Shazam acquisition, Ticci is living that 4K life and Stephen is thinking about an iMac Pro.
A fun episode of Connected this week with a good variety of topics. You can listen here.
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On Friday, TechCrunch reported that Apple had agreed to acquire music discovery service and app-maker Shazam. Today, Apple made it official confirming the deal to BuzzFeed News. Shazam, which makes iOS, watchOS, and macOS apps that can detect songs, TV shows, and advertisements from their sound signatures, has been on Apple’s platforms since the early days of iOS and is the engine behind Siri’s ability to recognize songs.
The financial terms of the deal were not disclosed in the announcement, but according to TechCrunch, Shazam cost Apple somewhere in the neighborhood of $400 million. According to a report from The Wall Street Journal last year, Shazam accounts for about 1 million clicks per day and 10% of digital download sales. However, as streaming services have gained popularity over paid music downloads, Shazam’s affiliate link revenue from music sales has shrunken. To compensate, Shazam has turned increasingly to advertising. With today’s acquisition, Shazam should continue to drive traffic to Apple Music without the need to sustain itself as a standalone business.
In addition to Apple’s music services, Shazam sends significant traffic to Spotify. Shazam also has an Android app. It remains to be seen what will happen to the Spotify relationship or Android app now that Shazam is part of Apple or whether Apple plans to maintain Shazam as a separate iOS app. Deeper integration with Siri is one direction Apple may take Shazam’s technology implementing something like the Google Pixel 2’s automatic song identification feature called ‘Now Playing.’
Past MacStories coverage of Shazam is available here.
Ingrid Lunden, writing for TechCrunch:
As Spotify continues to inch towards a public listing, Apple is making a move of its own to step up its game in music services. Sources tell us that the company is close to acquiring Shazam, the popular app that lets people identify any song, TV show, film or advert in seconds, by listening to an audio clip or (in the case of, say, an ad) a visual fragment, and then takes you to content relevant to that search.
We have heard that the deal is being signed this week, and will be announced on Monday, although that could always change.
Assuming that Apple keeps Shazam’s standalone app around in the short term, I wonder if the built-in Spotify integration for streaming and saving songs will remain (I wouldn’t be surprised if it gets pulled). I’m a fan of Shazam’s iPhone and Watch apps, but it’d be great to have Shazam baked into Siri without having to ask any special song recognition command. Shazam’s discovery and recommendation features could also tie in nicely with Apple Music.
iOS 11 apps have been receiving the most attention in recent weeks, and for good reason – drag and drop, ARKit, and more make it an exciting time for the platform. But watchOS is also seeing significant improvement of late. With watchOS 4 and the Apple Watch Series 3, the Watch feels like it’s beginning to truly mature in several key ways. There’s still a long way to go, but developers are now able to build the most capable, refined Watch apps ever seen. Shazam is a great example of that.
Shazam’s new Watch app is extremely simple, and as I like to say, that’s the way all good Watch apps should be. Launching it presents the familiar blue Shazam button, which upon a tap will begin listening to whatever music is currently playing. After you hit the button, you can turn your wrist away and the app will notify you through a haptic tap when the song’s been identified. In testing on a Series 3 Watch, songs were identified very quickly, taking only 2-3 seconds on every try.
After songs have been identified, they’re stored below the Shazam button in the main app interface. By scrolling with the Digital Crown, you’ll see the last five songs presented in a style similar to watchOS’s revamped Music app: large album covers resembling cards that slide in over each other as you keep scrolling. Tapping an album cover plays a short preview of the song using the Watch’s built-in speaker.
One final thing worth noting is that unlike many other third-party watchOS apps, Shazam is built to take full advantage of the iPhone independence made possible by the new Series 3 LTE Watch. According to an official support document:
Do I need my phone to use Apple Watch Shazam features?
If you have the Watch Series 3 LTE, you can shazam phone-free! If you have an older Apple Watch device you’ll need to have your iPhone connected in order to name that song.
It will likely be a while before we see a significant number of third-party apps updated to support independence from the iPhone, but Shazam is a good start.
Shazam for iOS has introduced an update that makes app navigation more simple and streamlined. Gone are the traditional navigation tabs at the bottom of the screen; they have been replaced by a paginated layout where a swipe left or right is used to switch screens.
Launching Shazam lands you on the Home page, which is devoted almost entirely to the Shazam button. Tapping it will cause the app to start listening to what’s playing; one change to the Home page is that you now activate Auto Shazam with a long-press on the Shazam button. Auto Shazam allows the app to continue listening to what’s playing even after the app closes.
The top of the Home page indicates that there are three pages in total to navigate through. To the left of Home is My Shazam, to the right is Discover, and swiping back and forth is the primary way to get where you want to go. This type of layout resembles that of apps like Snapchat, only Shazam pulls it off in a less confusing manner. Not only do you always see three navigation dots at the top of the screen to indicate your current place within the app, but the Home page also contains icons that show which pages are placed on the left and right – Snapchat could benefit from similar aids, for new users at least.
My Shazam hasn’t changed much from before, but in an effort to consolidate the total number of pages in the app, Discover now includes the contents formerly found in Trending as well. A Chart Update card is included with your daily mix, plus you’ll find a button at the top and bottom of your 10 daily updates that takes you straight to Trending.
I appreciate what Shazam has done to try simplifying its app, both in the number of pages to navigate through, and in adopting the swiping gesture to handle that navigation with ease. Not every app would benefit from such a streamlined interface, but it works well here.
I was recently watching a movie with my girlfriend, and it had a great soundtrack. After scrubbing the video back to open Shazam on my iPhone for the third time, I remembered that Shazam offered an automatic tagging feature to let the app continuously listen in the background to recognize songs. Shazam’s auto-tagging isn’t meant to be active all the time, but we were home, with my iPhone charging next to me, and it seemed like a perfect time to try it.
To my surprise, Shazam started pushing tagged songs using iOS 10’s new notification framework. Their implementation is a great example of what developers can achieve with rich notifications: a notification can be expanded and you’ll be presented with a custom view showing the song’s title, artist, album artwork, and global number of Shazams by users. But that’s not all – you can also tap on the artwork to listen to a song’s preview inside the notification without opening the Shazam app. If you want to act on the notification, there are three quick actions (another change made possible by iOS 10) to buy the song, add it to a playlist on Apple Music, or share it.
Once I realized I could catch up on tagged songs from Notification Center, I left Shazam running and enjoyed the rest of the movie. At the end, I went through my notifications, listened to each audio snippet, and saved a few songs in my Apple Music playlists.
The final result would have been the same in iOS 9, but the experience wouldn’t have been as nice (or as fast) without rich notifications. I’m looking forward to more apps adopting similar notification features in the next few months.