Ever been stuck humming a song when you couldn’t figure out What song is this? You hum the song, but you can’t remember the lyrics & before you know it the song is stuck in your brain & is on a loop.

And now you can’t undo it and can’t stop humming the song.

Last year, Google announced a new feature that can let users search for a song just by humming, though the quality of searching for songs other than English is subjective & debatable.

I have tried one English & one Hindi song, worked perfectly.

Related: Use Google Chrome portably (without installing it)

Hum to search on Google (to identify songs)

Open the Google app on your Android or iOS device & you’ll see a “Search for a song” button, as shown below.

Search for a song button on the Google app to find songs by humming. Screenshot provided by Shubham Davey for Techbydavey.com
Search for a song button on the Google app to find songs by humming

If you don’t see the button, all you have to do is open the Google app, tap on the mic icon, say “What is this song” and hum, whistle or sing it out loud.

Make sure you hum for good 10-15 seconds for the app to pick up the rhythm.

Note: The feature is available for iOS & Android (not for desktop/laptop) & This feature is available in English on iOS & over 20 languages on Android.

If you’ve set up the Google Assistant on your smartphone, you can simply say, “Hey Google, what’s this song?” and then spit out the loop that’s occupying your mind.

Google will analyze (all that machine learning magic) the song & share the results based on various matching percentages.

You can tap on the best-matching songs listed and enjoy listening to the full song.

The best part? Now you can get rid of the loop you had when you couldn’t remember the song.

Google hum this song: What's this song?
Hum to search on Google app for Android

Exploring the Now Playing feature on Pixel devices

This feature first arrived for pixel users as Now Playing. With this, your pixel devices can automatically identify the song without even asking for it.

Maybe you want to identify the song/music that’s a part of viral Instagram reels. Or simply identify the songs that are not even on your smartphone.

You just have to tweak a couple of settings, and you’re good to go.

Identify songs on a Pixel device (No hum to search or what’s this song anymore)

  1. Tap on the phone settings icon or search for it in the main menu
  2. Tap Sound & vibration > Advanced > Now playing
  3. Opt to Show songs on the lock screen (this will download the songs database)
  4. If you’re connected to wifi & the song is playing, the song info like artist & title will be shown on the lock screen

Pro tip: You can also find the history of songs you’ve heard in the Now playing history section under Sound & vibration > Advanced > Now playing

Note: Some of these steps will work only on Android 10 & above, here’s how you can check the android version (and update) on your smartphone.

What about non-pixel devices? Did Google leave them out?

Absolutely not! If you have android 4.0 and above, you can use this feature. However, this feature works only for selected countries and languages.

I think for certain skins as well, I use a xiaomi smartphone & I couldn’t find it. But on a Samsung device, the option is available.

How to add the Now Playing widget on your Android smartphone

  1. Install the Google app from the Google play store
  2. If not already installed, tap Install
  3. After installing, touch and hold on to the empty space on your home screen
  4. Find “Google” & look for “Sound search”. Drag the sound search icon to add to the home screen.

To identify a song, just tap the icon and the Google search app will do its magic.

If you’re a geek and what to know what runs behind the curtains, read on.

What goes in the background when you “Hum to search”?

Google says, “An easy way to explain it is that a song’s melody is like its fingerprint: They each have their own unique identity. We’ve built machine learning models that can match your hum, whistle, or sing to the right fingerprint.”

Google hum this song: What's this song?
How Google identifies the songs you hum?

When you hum a song, machine learning does the magic and converts the audio into a number-based sequence.

This sequence is then matched with the number-based sequence of the existing records (full song) in their database.

The ML is trained to learn from various sources like humming, studio recording & whistling. The algorithm even eliminates the instrument in case you’re inputting a recording. This project is a part of Google’s music recognition technology.

The sound search was already made available to Pixel devices in 2017 (as mentioned above) and now the same sound search feature of Google is made available for global access on the Google app.

So next time when you’re stuck with a hymn that you can’t get rid of, just ask Google, What song is this? You’ll be done for the day.

Final thoughts: TL;DR

If you’re someone who’s a music freak and can’t stand missing out on good music, this feature is just for you. I remember my good old days when I was at the mall, window shopping, and these guys would play amazing music in the background to keep us in a good mood. I would love these songs and had no way to figure out what this song was.

Happens no more. Either ask Google or add the widget on your home screen, it’s that easy.

I’ve tested humming one English song and one Hindi song, the top results were accurate.

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