One of the changes in iOS 9.3 – an API to add Apple Music tracks to playlists and the user’s library – especially made sense for apps like Shazam. And sure enough, Shazam for iOS has been updated with the ability to add tagged songs to any playlist and find all tagged songs in a ‘My Shazam Tracks’ playlist on Apple Music. There’s also support for playback of entire songs without leaving Shazam.
These features have been possible for Spotify users for a while now, and it’s nice to have them for Apple Music as well.
I’ve long been a fan of Shazam – I use it daily to discover songs I hear on movies and TV shows. Version 9.4, just released on the App Store, finally brings a way to keep recognized songs available on all devices through a Shazam account.
Over the years, I’ve lost hundreds of tagged songs between clean installs of iOS and Shazam. It’s good to know this will no longer be a problem. Version 9.4 has currently rolled out for Shazam Encore only, but I assume the free Shazam app is getting an update shortly as well.
I’m excited to start using Apple Music next week, but I was concerned that one of my favorite ways to discover songs I hear around me – Shazam – wouldn’t be ready to support Apple Music at launch. Thankfully, an update released today adds an Apple Music button that, like other streaming integrations before, will let you listen to tagged songs on the new service.
I’ve been preparing for the launch of Apple Music – I deleted Spotify from my iPhone and re-subscribed to Beats Music last night so I can report on the transition – because I’ve been waiting for an Apple music streaming service for a long time, and I want to understand what they’ve built as quickly as possible. The fact that third-party utilities like Shazam and Musixmatch should already work with the updated Music app makes the transition even better.
Being Shazam one of the most used apps on my iPhone, I was excited to see the company announcing the ability to stream full songs from Spotify earlier this week. Shazam has added Rdio and Beats Music streaming over the past year, but Spotify was the big omission.
As noted by several users yesterday, Shazam has begun rolling out Beats Music integration in their app, allowing users to stream tagged songs off Apple’s service. Similarly, both 9to5Mac and Engadget report that Spotify integration is back in Shazam, as also confirmed by a support document. The feature mirrors Rdio integration for songs recognized in Shazam, launched last month.
With Shazam becoming Apple’s official partner for Siri in iOS 8, it makes sense for the dedicated Shazam app to offer more options to its users – hopefully, this time Shazam won’t decide to pull these integrations.
I was surprised to hear last week that Shazam, makers of the popular music recognition app that’s going to be integrated with Siri in iOS 8, had launched a desktop app for OS X, available for free on the Mac App Store. I always associated Shazam with the portability and instant-on nature of the iPhone: you hear a song playing, you want to know what it is, you pull out Shazam and let it work its magic. That’s why I’ve never managed to get used to Shazam on the iPad and why I seldom use all the features that the company has tacked onto the app over the years: fundamentally, I see Shazam as the music recognition app for iPhone, and that’s it.
Much like Twitterrific’s update for iOS 7, Shazam has spruced up their app with flattened, descriptive wiry icons and simple color palettes that make the app feel at home on Apple’s new OS. Perhaps the only noticeable difference is that Shazam asks for Microphone access, a new requirement as of iOS 7, so that it can listen to what’s playing in the background to identify songs. It’s visually a nice update, but much of it is the same as before. It’s cleaner and more focused, with nice looking fades and animations as you switch between tabs.
The features added to iOS 7 revolve around social maps and Facebook. Eh. I don’t know how Shazam feels about people like me, but I’m not so intent on sharing songs with friends and seeing what people are listening to around me. I said the same thing when I took a look at the revamped iPad app earlier in the year, and I feel somewhat alienated since the only thing I really want to use Shazam for is ID’ing tracks playing at over loudspeakers, on the radio, or when some remixed version of a song pops up on a livestream somewhere. The social stuff… I don’t want any part of it. It’s cool. It’s just not for me.
Shazam currently sells a free version of Shazam, complete with advertisements that you can remove with an in-app purchase. For a few bucks you can straight up buy a version of Shazam with a darker blue icon free of ads. And then there’s a product RED version of the app that looks cool, and also removes ads. I’d rather see a single version of Shazam that’s free, with Lifetime (or Encore) as an IAP and RED as an optional theme, which you could also pay for. It’d remove a lot of the confusion about which version is which on the App Store. Regardless, if you’d like to give Shazam a try (the ID stuff is amazing — why don’t you have it?), you can download one of the following variants from the App Store:
Shazam is one of those things that has always felt entirely magical. With a tap of a button, usually any song playing from a static filled speaker is correctly tagged, and sorted into a tab where you can revisit it on your accord at a later time. It’ll pluck songs out of the air in a noisy bar, identify what’s playing on TV, and even tell you whether MSTRKRFT’s remix of Monster Hospital is playing before the keynote starts. And Shazam is always in my pocket, ready to settle disputes on what band is actually playing and what the name of the song actually is.
There’s a social element to Shazam which I personally don’t find appealing. I don’t want to see what people are tagging locally, nor do I care about Facebook integration or top tracks. They’re discovery tools, but I don’t care about what you’re tagging from your radio station. Rdio’s Heavy Rotation provides the most intimate kind of feedback between friends as does Spotify with their social features. Shazam wants me to share, to gather demographic data and to get people really using their sharing tools, but what I’m hearing right now is really the only thing that’s relevant.
So the exploration features, the maps and the social sharing, I’m entirely disinterested in. I mean, locally, we’re all listening to the same radio stations or watching the same television shows in company anyway. I use Shazam as my own personal list of things I’ve heard and want to know more about. What I do care about is tagging — the blue spinning circle and thumping waveform, as well as the immediacy of the feedback it provides. Auto tagging is entirely about this.
Auto tagging is a core component of the new iPad app, reminiscent of something like Yahoo’s IntoNow. The iPad, with its big battery, can sit on your coffee table or beside your media center, sipping battery while listening to songs playing in the background from your favorite television shows. I’ve had Radium running in the background this morning, and Shazam quietly but quickly identified the music that was playing from a local radio station. It automates what previously required a button press, even if does raise an eyebrow concerning privacy at home. As you launch the app and turn on the feature, Shazam pops up an alert that says (and definitely not verbatim), “We aren’t listening to what you say! Just identifying the music :-D.” Yeah, but… And until you close the app, Shazam will continue listening in the background even when the iPad’s display is off.
Possibly trading personal privacy for this kind of convenience obviously depends on your own comfort level. The same people who find Chrome’s “Ok, Google” or the Xbox One’s voice features will probably find this feature unsettling. Keep in mind that Shazam does listen every few seconds in the background even when auto tagging is off to help it more quickly identify music that’s playing, and I imagine the company feels that the only time you’d turn on Shazam is when you’re actively wanting to figure out what’s playing. I’m personally ok with it — I can’t wait to try it during a YouTube concert live stream to see how it fares there. I’ll probably just end up using it when watching press events and keynotes.
Shazam is free to use, the company making money from advertisements and purchases made from tagged music. You can, however, pay a $6.99 IAP (or purchase a “pre-paid” version) to remove advertisements.