Shazam released a major update to its iOS app Thursday that turns your iPad into an automated log file for every song you listen to, every TV show you watch and every commercial you’re trying to ignore.
This is possibly due to a new feature dubbed auto tagging: Once turned on, Shazam will automatically listen to everything within reach of the iPad’s microphone, generate an acoustic fingerprint every few seconds and ping Shazam’s servers to look for matches. Identified songs, TV shows and ads are automatically sent to a personal queue within the Shazam app.
Users can then browse through these finds, add songs to their favorites, buy them on iTunes or stream them through Rdio. What’s interesting about this feature is that it also works in the background, while you’re doing something in another app or even when the iPad’s lock screen is enabled. iPad users will know that auto tagging is enabled through the red bar on the top of their screen, just like you’re used to seeing when you’re switching to another app during a Skype call.
That red bar is meant to warn users that their microphone is recording sound — but Shazam EVP of Marketing David Jones wasn’t all that happy about that notion when I talked to him Wednesday about the app update. “We are not recording or storing anything,” he said, adding that the app was “just borrowing the mic.”
Shazam’s new iPad app is one of a growing number of apps and devices that always keep the microphone running in order to react to speech, or in this case music; others include the new Xbox One. It’s a concept that will make some privacy-conscious consumers nervous — but Jones said that there are huge upsides to this approach.
Instead of making users scramble to find and activate the tagging app on the mobile device, auto tagging will let them come back to the music they heard throughout a TV show, or even at the end of a day. To illustrate it, Jones told me that he had his iPad in the car a few days ago, listening to radio program while he was driving. And when he got to work, he had a full queue of recognized songs waiting for him. “My entire commute’s music was sitting there,” he said.
Aside from auto-tagging, Shazam is also adding TV content recognition, social functionality and a mapping feature that shows where people are listening to which songs. Shazam has retired its old, standalone iPad app and is rolling out the update as a universal app, but the iPhone will only get the mapping feature for now.
Jones said that the iPhone is going to get auto-tagging later this summer. It’s unclear yet when Android is going to see auto-tagging, but other features of the new iPad app will find their way to the tablet version of Android within the next two months.