Fans of Midomi, the song-identifying app for iPhone, will still recognize the app when the iPhone prompts an update to version 3.0, even if they don't recognize the new name: SoundHound. The app's core remains the same with its outsize orange button you tap to sing, hum, or record a song you want to ID, buttressed by another button for shier folk to speak the artist or song name, and a text field for old-fashioned typing. What's new is big, and it centers on two additional tabs below, one that lets you browse music trends and another that links up to your iPod library.
Tap "What's Hot" to pull up trend charts for the most popular songs on the Midomi network; the songs that are played more through Midomi than they are on the air; and a list of the most recently "grabbed" tunes that SoundHound and Midomi.com users have identified.
Following any musical entry pulls up an info page from which you can flow into an artist bio, bookmark or share the details, buy the song via iTunes, or watch available YouTube videos. A new lyrics feature presents the words to the tunes within the Midomi app; if that's not available, tapping the "lyrics" button produces Google search results, still within the app.
Midomi's SoundHound also cleverly hooks into your iPhone's iPod library through the "Now Playing" button. The songs you play through SoundHound get funneled into the Midomi network, so you can rapidly interact with your ditty as you would had you sought it out by typing, talking, humming, or recording the tune. Even better, SoundHound can show lyrics for your iTunes song as it plays. Likewise, if your music search turns up a song you've already got, an icon denotes the fact, and lets you play the tune from your own collection.
The robustness of the lyrics feature and the trend charts crowd in on TuneWiki's territory, and threaten to overtake it. Shazam, the other popular music discovery app, could also find itself on SoundHound's lunch menu, except for its loyal following and free price. Even the premium Shazam Encore may continue to appeal to some for its now slightly cheaper price tag and a handy offline mode, but its features pale in comparison.
The cost of owning Midomi 3.0/SoundHound does jump in this release from $4.99 to $6.99, presumably to accommodate the cost of licensing lyrics, though we haven't been able to confirm this yet with the app's publisher, Melodis. What we do know is that with this release, SoundHound is jetting to the front of the music discovery pack, which can only mean more sophisticated improvements down the line for its competitors.