How to Identify Any Song Using Your Phone

Music is everywhere. You could be in a cab or in a café, or sitting on your couch, when a new song is found in your head and settled. But the sweet joy of discovering a fresh favorite can be bitter in a flash if you don’t name that tone. Luckily, you can get help. This is how your smartphone recognizes a song.

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Google Assistant (Android or iPhone)
Photo: Simon Hill

Google has been offering a different form of song recognition for years now, but it has improved significantly over time. Even if the song you want no longer plays, you can try humming or singing it. Here’s how:

  1. On an Android device, say, “Hey Google,” or touch and hold the home button. On an iPhone, open the Google app and tap the microphone button.
  2. Ask, “What is this song?”
  3. If the song is playing, name it Google Assistant and you will be given a YouTube link. You can also hum, whistle, or sing the tune, and Google will suggest potential matches.

Unfortunately, it won’t work on Wear OS smartwatches, but you can try Shazam (see below) to get song recognition on your wrist.

Siri (iPhone)

You can use Siri to identify a song on most Apple devices, including Apple Watch, but it must be the original version. It doesn’t recognize your hum or singing.

  1. Say, “Hey Siri,” or push the power button on an iPhone or digital crown on the Apple Watch.
  2. Ask, “What is this song?”
  3. If the song is playing, give it a Siri name and give you a link to Apple Music.

Shazam (Android or iPhone)

Photo: Simon Hill

Shazam is the original music recognition service and it offers easy to use such as linked lyrics, links to some best music streaming service, and quick social media sharing. Apple acquired Shazam in 2018, but the app is still available for Android, as well iOS. It also works with most of our picks for best smartwatches.

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