Review of Shazam for iPhone

Written iPhone Music App Review

Shazam is a free application for the iPhone, available for download from the Apple App Store.

What Shazam aims to do is to identify music (song name, artist, album) that is playing around you – on the radio, on TV or at the cinema. Almost everyone has experienced that moment when you hear a great song for the first time but don’t know what it is, or how to find out. This is where Shazam comes in.

How does Shazam work?

Shazam records a 15 or so second sound-bite from the song and then sends that information to a large music database. This database will either “tag” the song, returning information on the title and artist, or it will return a “sorry, no match could be found” message. If the song is located, you have the option to save the “tag” for future reference, buy the song directly from iTunes, view related YouTube videos, take a picture to accompany the tag and also email the tagged song to friends.

In order for Shazam to work, the iPhone must have access to the internet – via 3G, edge or Wi-Fi. The downside to this application is that it doesn’t really have any functionality for those people on phone plans without a data package or 3G network access. Unfortunately Shazam does not have the facility to record the sound-bite to submit at a later point in time.

Does Shazam actually work?
In short, yes – most of the time.

I tested the following seven tracks at a medium noise level in a quiet room:

ACDC – Highway to Hell
Kings of Leon – Revelry
Eric Prydz – Pjanoo
John Coltrane – Giant Steps
British India – Run the Red Light
Tiesto – Lovestoned (Justin Timberlake) remix
Bach – Cello Suite

The Results:
Shazam correctly identified the first four songs, but couldn’t identify British India, the Tiesto remix or Bach. These songs may not be particularly mainstream, but they certainly aren’t completely obscure. After doing some further testing, it seems popular and contemporary music is much more readily identifiable. Although unable to identify all the tracks, I was quite impressed by the accuracy of Shazam, none of the songs were mis-identified.

I found that Shazam had issues identifying tracks when there was a lot of ambient noise in the room or if the volume was very low.


Worth the download?
Definitely – if you have 3G internet access on the go. Still worth a look if you don’t – it’s free, so you can’t really go wrong. It doesn’t work all the time, but I’d still highly recommend it for music fans.

[rating:3.5]

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2 Responses to “Review of Shazam for iPhone”

  1. I have had this app and been very pleased with it since it came out. I was recently telling my friends about it and one of them just completely doubted its validity, so we put it to a test. I launched my iTunes library and Shazam proceeded to get 14 of 15 songs correct, and the one it got wrong it still got the song right, but it thought it was a cover version. Amazing piece of software.

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