The Google Pixel 2
and Pixel 2 XL
are both equipped with the Now Playing feature, which provides an always on music recognition service to owners of these phones. In building the system, which requires a small "fingerprint" of a tune to allow the technology to find the name of a song, Google used "deep neural networks." Now Playing is designed to work on-device, even without an internet connection.
When launched in 2017 along with the second-generation of Pixel
handsets, Now Playing was far superior to Google's then server-side music discovery feature Sound Search. So Google decided to use some of the same technology it employs for Now Playing to power a new and improved Sound Search. So if you want to find out the name of a song that is playing near you, and you don't own the Pixel 2
or Pixel 2 XL
, just activate the Google Search app or Google Assistant
and you'll see a suggestion that reads "What’s this song?" Press the button to find out. Or, you can just say, "Hey Google, what's this song?" You can also put a shortcut on your phone by going to the widgets page and moving the Google Sound widget to a open location on your home screen (see the GIF at the bottom of this article).
The technology in Now Playing is designed to create a small, unique fingerprint from a small portion of a song and match it to an on-device database of tens of thousands of songs. The database is updated often to remove older tunes and add new releases. Google does this because the on-device nature of Now Playing requires it to have a small database. On the other hand, the server-side Sound Search looks for matches in a much larger database that contains around 1,000 times more tunes than Now Playing. Sound Search also uses a neural network that is four times the size of the one used for Now Playing, and it fingerprints the audio being named in .5 second intervals as compared to the one second intervals used with the system found on the Pixel 2 models.
Google says that it thinks Sound Search has room for improvement, and can be made to respond even faster. That's something for Android toting music fans to look forward to.