Google's making a Shazam rival and it's a hum-dinger

Google's new feature is absolutely humming, and we mean that in a nice way

YouTube Music
(Image credit: YouTube)

One of the problems with searching for music is that in order to search for it, you need to know what it's called – and a lot of times you haven't the faintest idea what it's called, so you don't know what to search for. That's why Shazam was invented, so you could get your phone to recognise what music you were hearing, and it's why Soundhound took the idea further by enabling you to hum or sing a tune and look it up online. Now it seems YouTube is getting in on the act with its own hum-powered search feature in the YouTube app.

Shazam is owned by Apple these days, so it's very unlikely that it'll come to non-Apple services – so Google has apparently built its own voice-powered equivalent. In a support page unearthed by The Verge, Google details the search experiments it's making available to some users. And one of those experiments is sing-to-search.

Unfortunately there's nowhere to sign up for these experiments, no beta to download and no form you can fill out; Google simply rolls out the experiments to some users, and the first you'll know about it is that your YouTube may look slightly different. As Google says, "these test features... are usually available for a short period of time and only for a small group of people." This particular experiment is only being made available to Android users accessing YouTube through the official app.

If you are one of the lucky few, though, you can toggle between voice search and the new song search feature. You can then hum or sing for at least three seconds – any less and the search feature won't work – and YouTube will do its best to identify the song. If it finds a match, you'll be taken to the appropriate YouTube content – videos, user-generated videos or shorts depending on what's available. 

We don't know whether this will make it into the YouTube app after the experiment is over, or if it turns out that most Android users couldn't carry a tune in a bucket and that the feature doesn't generate the results that Google wants. But if you've got it in your YouTube app, it's a fun thing to play around with. Especially if you're searching for death metal.

Carrie Marshall

Writer, musician and broadcaster Carrie Marshall has been covering technology since 1998 and is particularly interested in how tech can help us live our best lives. Her CV is a who’s who of magazines, newspapers, websites and radio programmes ranging from T3, Techradar and MacFormat to the BBC, Sunday Post and People’s Friend. Carrie has written more than a dozen books, ghost-wrote two more and co-wrote seven more books and a Radio 2 documentary series. When she’s not scribbling, she’s the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR (