There is no feeling more frustrating than walking past a live band at a festival and really enjoying their song, but not knowing what this song is called. This isn't strictly limited to live performances either, since it is a classic source of frustration to walk past someone's camping spot as they are playing a song that you really want to know the name to, but neither you nor they can tell you. You have the option of trying to remember the lyrics of the song in order to Google them when you're at home from being out in the car or at the festival of your choice, but there is always a better way. A much better way in fact, and this comes in the form of Shazam. Shazam is a music identification app which has been around for quite some time now, offering millions of frustrated people a chance to identify their favourite unknown song they've been hearing on their car radio or someone else's stereo.
The concept of Shazam is very simple and has been the same since the app was first released. If you hear a song that you wish to know the name of, you simply pick up your phone, open Shazam, and press the large "Shazam" button. In doing this, you allow the app to listen to a portion of the song, after which it hurriedly compares it to its unbelievable large database and (hopefully) comes up with the name of the song, the artist who is responsible for it, and a whole host of other information if you wish to browse through it. New to the app is also an auto-Shazam feature that can be enabled to allow Shazam songs passively, with the app listening out for all songs around it when this feature is activated
After the iOS7 update, Shazam was given a minor visual overhaul which included making the home screen a sort of mini-portal for accessing the various functions and features of the app. The main "Shazam" function which triggers the app's listening and song-matching capability is in the centre of the screen whilst the various other sections are placed neatly along the bottom.You can access a full list of the 'tags', which are the songs you have previously "Shazam-ed", listed conveniently in chronological order with the song and artist info as well as the date and time you actually identified each song. The news section contains various headlines and announcements from music artists and bands as well as allowing you access to lists including tracks that are most Shazam-ed.
The two remaining features, the 'explore' and 'pulse' sections are extremely interesting as well. 'Explore' allows you to look at the top tracks that people are using Shazam to identify in your area, using a map to select your locale to bring up a top 20 chart. It can be very interesting to see the variation between areas in what people are listening to. The 'Pulse' section also keeps you up to date in real time in regards to overall top tracks. These additional features truly add a social aspect to the app instead of just having it as an isolated music identification app that does nothing more.
Shazam's performance is what truly makes it a brilliant app and a superior choice to similar music identification programs such as Musixmatch. The app is fantastic at picking out pretty much any song on the radio as well as songs in mixes and even the occasional remix as well. It struggles a little with live music, but it can still perform here. It also struggles with lesser-known bands, and it won't pick out any video games soundtracks as in Super Mario Brothers or music-driven pc game AudioSurf reviewed here) but at the same time it handles some pretty obscure electronic music very well. Any shortcoming in identification is only a fault of the app's database however and not of its listening capabilities; the database can be expanded over time and therefore will constantly improve as time goes on.
The app's design is distinctive and in a striking blue colour, though pure aesthetics shouldn't really matter when you consider the design of the app is about as slick and polished as it can be anyhow, particularly in terms of how well it functions. Overall, the app is incredibly useful for any musical situation when you simply have to know the name of a song, and it will surely come in useful at festivals and other music shows as well.