Shazam & AQA: The answer is on your mobile

Mobile services are renowned for their lacklustre performance, but Shazam and AQA are two services that had us staring at our phone as though it was the Rosetta stone

There are few mobile services out there that do something useful, and there are even fewer that are jaw-droppingly cool. However, if you think that there aren't any mobile services that will make you smile with technological wonder, then you haven't heard of Shazam or AQA.

Shazam is a music-recognition service that works via your mobile. There's no fiddly software to download and you won't need GPRS, WAP or any other elusive acronym to mess around with in order to use it. All you do is dial 2580 from any mobile and hold up the handset to a song that's being played in a bar, car stereo or anywhere you hear a tune you dig. After 30 seconds the phone will hang itself up and two or three minutes later you'll be sent a text message with the song title and artist name, forever putting an end to those 'what's this song?' moments. The service, also known as 'tagging', even works in noisy conditions -- it really does, we tried it out in Soho on a Saturday night.

Recently, Shazam has added links in the text message to track downloads that you can collect online, as well as a new online service that keeps track of all your tags. For £4.50 a month you can use Shazam as much as you like and keep an online record of every song you 'tag'. This also includes two free downloads of either a full track or a ringtone version of the song. Alternatively, if you don't want to subscribe, you can use Shazam for 60p a go.

The other mobile service that will make the most hardened of cynics break down in amazement is AQA, or Any Question Answered, which was founded by former Psion and Symbian top brass. Again, there's no downloading or Internet browsing involved -- all you need to do is text any question you need answered to 63336 and let AQA do the rest. The question can be practically anything you can think of and according to AQA, it has answered questions ranging from tax to sex, so nothing is taboo. (Our favourite, apart from the rude ones: How many people in the world today have a cold? AQA: 86,191,000. Don't ask us how they know. Text AQA, they'll tell you.)

Once the text message is sent, in a matter of minutes you will be texted back with an answer that should satisfy your needs. It's recently hit the 2 million questions mark and tomorrow it celebrates its second year in business, so it looks like it's going to have a very happy birthday. Each question costs £1, but don't let that you put you off -- a measly quid is nothing once you've downed too many tequila shots and can't remember the number for a cab home. -AL

 

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