Sunday, September 16, 2018

Google Sound Search is now better thanks to AI-based song recognition


Google announced the ‘Now Playing’ always-on music recognition feature for its Pixel 2 series of smartphones last year. It can recognise what song is currently being played and displays the title and artist name once a match is found on the device’s lock screen. The feature worked offline as it stored a small database of songs to match from. 

The Shazam-like option was later rolled out for all smartphones via the company’s smart assistant and it could connect to the internet for recognising songs. Now, Google says that it has applied the same technology that Now Playing makes use of to make the Sound Search feature better.  Now Playing sorts through a database of “tens of thousands” of songs and uses neural networks to develop "fingerprints" (audio samples) that identify each song. 

The feature then makes use of two algorithms, the first one being fast but less accurate while the second acting as a fine comb to zero-in on the song, which is most likely being played. Google says that it took the same approach to make its Sound Search better but quadrupled the size of the neural network and doubled the density of the embeddings (number of fingerprints) to help find the right music from “tens of millions” of songs that are in their database.  The new method is said to comb through a wider range of music and produce more accurate matches. 

However, James Lyon from Google AI at Z├╝rich states, “We still think there’s room for improvement though — we don’t always match when music is very quiet or in very noisy environments, and we believe we can make the system even faster. We are continuing to work on these challenges with the goal of providing the next generation in music recognition. We hope you’ll try it the next time you want to find out what song is playing!” One can also add a Sound Search widget to easily search for a song that’s being played nearby.  

The Now Playing feature does recognise songs but it doesn't actually register which songs you're listening to. It will simply display the music being played and then forgets it without saving it so that one can revisit it. However, there is an app called Now Playing Register on the Google Play Store by the developer called Development Colors. It records each song that the phone hears and recognizes, tabulating them based on date. Clicking on any song displays options to play it on Spotify, Google Play Music, YouTube, Apple Music and Amazon Music. 

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