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Operating Systems

Shazam-powered Siri can now name that tune in iOS 8

Play a song on any device for Siri to hear, and Apple's voice assistant can identify it for you in the latest operating system.

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Siri can now tell you what song is playing. Screenshot by Lance Whitney/CNET

Do you often find yourself listening to a great but unfamiliar song on the radio and wanting to know its name? Apple device owners who've upgraded to iOS 8 can now ask Siri.

Siri has long been able to identify a song being played on the same device. For example, if you're listening to a tune on your iPhone, you can ask Siri: "What song is this," and it will tell you. But in iOS 8, Siri's musical abilities have gone a step further.

You can now play a song on a different device, on the radio, on a CD, or on some other source, and Siri should be able to name that tune for you. Here's how it works:

Start playing the song you want to identify if it's not already playing. Ask Siri the question: "What song is this?" Siri responds by saying: "Let me listen." Depending on how far along you are in the track, Siri will probably take at least a few seconds to recognize the song. Once it does, Siri will respond by saying something like "I can name that tune." And then it proceeds to do so.

Siri's new music prowess in iOS 8 sounds a lot like an app called Shazam, which can also identify the name of a song currently playing. And the similarity is no coincidence. Apple teamed up with Shazam to integrate the app's capabilities directly into Siri.

As the folks at Shazam phrased it on a new support page: "With the release of iOS 8, the magic and convenience of Shazam is now fully integrated into Siri. To know the details of the music/media around you, open Siri, and ask a question..."

On my iPhone, I tested Siri's new musical talents against a few devices, including an iPad, a CD, and an old-fashioned radio. I also quizzed Siri on a variety of songs, including modern pop tunes, classical selections, and some of my favorite jazz music. And it was able to name that tune each time.

The new music recognition feature is one way in which Siri is trying to keep up with the competition. Both Google Now and Windows Phone's Cortana voice assistant offer their own music ID talents. Of course, Apple is also hoping the new feature will rack up more music sales. The identified song includes a Buy button that you can tap to purchase the song or its entire album directly on iTunes.

For more helpful iOS 8 tips, be sure to check out our complete guide on how to use iOS 8.