App recognizes audio, sometimes.

Photo_1I’m sure I’m not the only person who has ever come across a song playing out in the wild and wanted to know everything about it immediately. You know, like the song title, artist, album, lyrics, recommendations for other music based off liking that song, parodies of that song, and YouTube videos in which that song appears. Before I had a smartphone (as recently as last December), I would take note of the lyrics and Google them when I reached easy access to a computer. I know, I lived in the dark for a long time.

Shazam has been around for a while, helping people figure out what they were listening to since the early 2000s. It has managed to stay relevant through the transition from a call/text service to a smartphone app to Mac application by finding better ways of connecting users to the sounds in their environments. This Mac version runs invisibly in the background for 6-hour intervals, analyzing the sounds it picks up as you go about your routine. It collects what it hears, matches the sounds against its media database, and notifies you about what that song is or what music is in the background of that commercial or what TV show (season and episode) your roommate is watching. You can also go through past Shazams in a dropdown menu from your notifications bar (am I using that word right? It’s used as a noun and a verb on their website, and I thought I’d give that a whirl). You can click the media from the menu, which will take you to Shazam’s site, where you’ll find a compilation of information about whatever you just clicked on. There are also links to find songs on Apple Music.

Photo_2What makes this different from other iterations of Shazam is that it makes using the application is a much more passive process on the Mac. You don’t hear something and have to push a button to get Shazam to recognize the sounds, it just does.

If you get creeped out by technology as often as I do, this app might not be for you. If you think too hard about the fact that your computer is listening to you and may be silently judging how often you listen to Taylor Swift, then that might also be the case.

There are some legitimate cons to this application as well. Sometimes Shazam just doesn’t pick up what’s playing. It won’t know the song or movie or show, and it doesn’t even try. This happened quite a few times while I was throwing sounds at this thing, a lot with indie music. It also thought a Swiffer commercial was an episode of Tosh.0 at one point. Then there is the mildly troubling page on Shazam’s help page about the “Mac App Not Getting Results” at all. A note to all: Shazam won’t work if either your built-in microphone or built-in output is set to anything but 44100.0Hz/2ch-24bit Integer.

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Download Shazam from the App Store here.