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Pixel 2's automatic song recognition beats Shazam, here's why

Gran that beat, will you, Pixel? Oh, I already did!

There are plenty of features in the new Pixel 2 with Android Oreo that Google has lifted from other phones or interface overlays, and there is plenty of riff-raff in there (squeeze to launch Assistant, for instance, or the "notification dots" in Oreo), but one feature in particular stands out as an example of taking something that exists, and making it better.

Yes, we are talking about the automatic song recognition that Google demonstrated on the new Pixels. The premise is simple - the phone always listens to the tunes blasting or humming around you, and displays the title and album on the lock screen, if you let it, so you'll never worry about missing the name of that song that was just playing on the radio in the car for a few fleeting seconds. 

Pixel 2's automatic song recognition beats Shazam, here's why
We've all been there, and that is why song recognition apps like Shazam or SoundHound are so popular, yet automating the process is the next step. Shazam, in particular, has taken this next step for a few years now, as it has Auto Shazam, which listens in the background, and matches songs playing around you with its database so you never skip a beat. Google's solution for automatic song recognition is better, however, and here is why:

Offline recognition, you have the privacy aspect covered


Pixel 2's auto recognition doesn't need data connection to match a song playing around you with its title and album. Wait, what? Yep, no going to Google's servers to size up audio recorded by your phone to the database there, which is welcome news for privacy freaks. 

How does Google do it offline? Well, "machine learning" algorithms match the song to tens of thousands of "patterns" already stored on your handset, that's how. If it sounds magical, it probably is, and we are curious what exactly are those patterns Google was talking about that are able to match the vast amount of songs out there against some puny megabytes of storage.

Battery and data savings


Pixel 2's automatic song recognition beats Shazam, here's why
Since the Pixel 2 and 2 XL are doing the song matching on-device, there isn't much processing power or any data transfer involved. Apple, for instance, has developed sophisticated co-processors that take continuous care of the sensory input and AI calculations to save on battery by offloading these continuous tasks from the main cores. In the Pixel 2 case, the off-the-shelf Snapdragon 835 suffices, as there is always-on listening solution that takes care of commands like "OK, Google" anyway, hence the power draw is puny.

Lock screen display


Since the new Pixels are equipped with OLED screen panels, they can show pertinent info like date/time/notifications and, yes, song title and artist recognized in real time directly on the lock screen with minimal power draw. It doesn't get more helpful than that, as, unlike Auto Shazam, you can simply glance at your Pixel 2's screen while driving, and you will immediately know what's that fine tune being played on the radio without even having to unlock the gear and go into an app. 

It's the little things that make a big difference, and Google scored with the automatic song recognition option on the new Pixels, what do you think?

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