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Google today announced the integration of Sound Search into Now Playing to vastly improve its ability to recognize songs on Android phones. Now Playing, which was introduced last year, uses on-device machine learning to recognize tens of thousands of popular songs. Sound Search, which predates Now Playing but was incorporated into the tool today, can identify tens of millions of songs.

Sound Search operates on servers and is available via a long press of the Google Assistant button on Android phones or in the Google Search app. You can also add a shortcut to your home screen to quickly identify a song.

Now Playing works by using convolutional neural networks to give songs a unique fingerprint based on eight-second recordings. Due to its small size, Now Playing’s on-device song database can stay always on and listening for songs to identify. On Pixel 2 smartphones, Now Playing simply shares the name and title of a song played near a phone at the bottom of the screen.

You can read more about how Now Playing works in this VentureBeat article that explains the process.

To accommodate a much larger library of songs, Google engineers quadrupled the size of neural networks used to identify songs, and increased the size and number of embeddings used in the song identification process.

“We also decided to weight our index based on song popularity — in effect, for popular songs, we lower the matching threshold, and we raise it for obscure songs,” according to a blog post announcing the news today. “Overall, this means that we can keep adding more (obscure) songs almost indefinitely to our database without slowing our recognition speed too much.”

Additional improvements to Google’s music identification speed and accuracy in noisy environments are also in the works, according to the blog post.

VentureBeat has reached out to Google for additional comment on how Sound Search will work on Android phones.

Apple, who acquired popular song recognition app Songza last year, announced a series of upgrades for Siri this week, including the ability to search for and identify songs using lyrics.


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