In 2017, Google released the Pixel 2 and included the Now Playing software. With Now Playing, you can speak to your phone, even with no internet connection, and ask it to tell you what song is playing. The software was such a success that Google decided to improve one of its older apps: a new and improved Sound Search.
On September 14, Google announced on its AI blog that the updated Sound Search incorporates a lot of technology used in Now Playing. Now Playing uses neural networks collect a few seconds of a song, turning them into a fingerprint for that specific track. All of these fingerprints are added into a song database which allows offline use. The database holds tens of thousands of the most popular songs and removes songs that have had their 15 minutes of fame.
The new Sound Search system has 1,000 times more songs than Now Playing and uses a two-phase algorithm to find good matches from the entire database, and then, more accurately analyze those matches. Quadrupling the size of the neural network also cuts down on the number of false matches it generates. All in all, Sound Search is now faster and more accurate than Now Playing with a vastly larger library.
Google says that it still needs to improve, as both Now Playing and Sound Search still have some difficulty honing in on songs that are playing when you’re in a loud area, or if the music is too quiet. Even with that, we tested the new Sound Search and it was impressive.
So, the next time want to know the name of a tune that you don’t recognize, just ask Google.