A person using the Shazam app on an iPhone
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Hey, what’s that song? Your iPhone can listen to any song playing nearby and tell you. You don’t need any apps—multiple song identification tools are built right into your iPhone. Apple even purchased Shazam, a popular music recognition app.

Here’s how music recognition features work: When you tell your iPhone to listen for a song, it uses its microphone to record the audio around you. That audio data is uploaded to a server and analyzed, matching it to a known song in a database.

Ask Siri What Song Is Playing

You can ask Siri what song is playing by saying something like “What’s that song?” or “What’s playing?”.

To activate Siri, long-press the iPhone’s Power button. Say “What’s that song?”. If you have Hey Siri set up, you can also say “Hey Siri, what’s that song?” without pressing any buttons.

Siri will pop up and say something like “Let me listen” or “Naming that tune.” Be sure your iPhone can hear the music properly. If you’re in a noisy location or someone is talking loudly over the music, it might not hear the song well enough. If you have a problem, try moving your iPhone closer to the sound source playing the music, reducing noise in the area, or turning the volume up on the speaker playing the song.

Siri listening for a song on iPhone

If your iPhone hears the song well enough, it will show you the song. You can even go into the iTunes Store app and see a list of songs you’ve identified using Siri.

RELATED: How to See a List of Songs You've Identified Using Siri

Use the Shazam Control Center Button

As of the iOS 14.2 and iPadOS 14.2 updates, there’s now a quick Control Center button you can use to start identifying a song. However, it’s not enabled by default.

To add the Music Recognition button to your Control Center, head to Settings > Control Center. Add the “Music Recognition” button to your Control Center by tapping the plus sign to its left. (If you don’t see this option on the Settings screen, you haven’t updated your iPhone or iPad to iOS 14.2 yet.) You can then drag it up or down in the list to rearrange the Control Center layout.

With the button added, you can now swipe down from the top-right corner of your iPhone or iPad’s screen. (On an older iPhone without a notch, you’ll have to swipe up from the bottom of the screen instead.)

Tap the button with the Shazam logo. The button will light up and pulse while it listens to the audio around you. Ensure your iPhone can hear the audio source properly.

The Shazam button will light up and pulse

When the process is complete, you’ll see a “Music Recognition” notification banner showing you what song is playing. This notification appears along with all your other apps’ notifications in your notification center.

Your iPhone will only listen for 10 to 15 seconds after you tap the button. If it can’t identify a song in that period of time, you’ll see a notification saying a song wasn’t detected.

Use an App Like Shazam for More Features

If you want more features, you’ll need a separate music recognition app on your iPhone or iPad. The integrated music recognition features rely on Shazam, the music recognition app Apple purchased.

Shazam still has an iPhone and iPad app you can install, and it has more features. For example, the Shazam app supports “Auto Shazam.” In this mode, Shazam will stay in the background on your iPhone or iPad, listen to everything around you, and store a history of songs it’s heard. For example, let’s say you’re at a party and you love the playlist: You can enable Auto Shazam mode and your phone or tablet will automatically remember all the songs that played. You can even keep using other apps on your device while Shazam listens.

To use this feature, install the Shazam app, launch it, and long-press the big Shazam button, it will enable Auto Shazam mode.

Auto Shazam mode enabled on the Shazam app on iPhone

RELATED: How Do Music Identification Apps Like Shazam Work?

Or Try Humming With Google!

If a song you’re trying to identify is trapped in your head and all you can remember is the song’s melody, there’s still something you can do. With the Google app, you can hum or whistle a song’s tune to identify it.

RELATED: How to Hum to Search for a Song Using Google

Chris Hoffman Chris Hoffman
Chris Hoffman is Editor in Chief of How-To Geek. He's written about technology for nearly a decade and was a PCWorld columnist for two years. Chris has written for The New York Times, been interviewed as a technology expert on TV stations like Miami's NBC 6, and had his work covered by news outlets like the BBC. Since 2011, Chris has written over 2,000 articles that have been read more than 500 million times---and that's just here at How-To Geek.
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