Shazam, the song recognition app that Apple acquired and built into iOS, just got a really big audio upgrade that makes it even more useful. You can now use it inside third-party apps to work out what audio is playing.
Shazam uses your iPhone or iPad’s microphone to listen to the sound around you, and it has a giant database of audio “fingerprints” that enable it to match the sound it hears with its extensive catalogue of tracks. When the sound it hears scores a hit in the database, it then tells you what the song is and who it’s by. It also adds it to a playlist in Apple Music so you can listen to it later.
I tend to use Shazam in places such as pubs where I want to know what’s coming over the speakers. But now you can use it with third party apps too, so for example if you want to know what song is in the background of a YouTube video, an Instagram reel, a Threads video or a TikTok clip then you can get Shazam to work its magic on those too.
How to use Shazam to recognise music inside apps
The easiest way to use Shazam is by calling it up from your iPhone’s Control Centre, and you can do that from inside any app: on my iPhone 14, it’s a case of swiping down from the top right of the screen. The Shazam button’s somewhere in the middle of the Control Centre icons, so if I tap that I can then return to the app, play the audio, and let Shazam do its thing.
When Shazam has identified the song, it’ll pop up a notification or a Dynamic Island message that you can tap on to see more information about the song. It’ll add the track to your Apple Music, but if you don’t have Apple Music on your phone the Shazam app can also keep track of what you’ve searched for. And unless you switch the feature off, Shazam uses your iCloud account to sync between all your different devices.
I really like this new feature. Shazam has always felt a little bit like magic – I think it still has the wow factor, years after it first appeared – but this is practical magic, enabling you to identify songs from soundtracks and skits alike.