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Google takes on Shazam with ‘Now Playing’ smartphone feature


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Last night’s Google press event also saw the unveiling of the company’s new own-brand Pixel 2 Android smartphones, complete with a feature that treads firmly on Shazam’s toes by identifying music that’s currently playing nearby.

The feature is called ‘Now Playing’ and here’s how it was described on-stage.

“With Now Playing, you see the song name and artist on your phone. The music is identified without your Pixel 2 sending any information to Google,” said the presenter. “On-device machine-learning detects what music is playing and matches it to a database of tens of thousands of song patterns.”

More excitable journalists than us would be scrambling to label this a ‘Shazam-killer’ although there are currently clear limitations: the limited catalogue compared to Shazam, which DOES send information to its servers and can thus match patterns against a huge catalogue of tracks.

Also ‘Now Playing’ appears to be a Pixel 2-only feature for now, rather than something available across other Android smartphones. Still, automatic music recognition developed by Google is bound to raise more questions about Shazam’s future, especially if Apple at some point follows suit.

Stuart Dredge

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