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Shazam updated for iPhone and iPod touch: Multitasking merriment

A much-needed upgrade to music-recognition app Shazam takes advantage of the iOS 4 operating system's multitasking capabilities. There are plenty of other nips and tucks too.

Music-identification app Shazam has been updated for the iPhone and iPod touch, making it even easier to pin a name on that unknown tune you keep humming.

Shazam's music-recognition technology allows you to use your mobile phone to recognise a song wherever it's playing. You hold your phone up to the sound source and the recorded clip is run through a database of 8m tracks to find a match. You can use Shazam to find new music, but most people use it to identify a track for later purchase.

The app has had a refresh to suit the iOS 4 operating system on the iPhone and iPod touch. Probably the most important change is support for multitasking, meaning you can leave the app and do something else, like make a call or surf the Web, and then go back to where you were. This could make recognising music during pub quizzes a damn sight easier.

In the case of the iPhone 4, the update optimises the app for the device's high-resolution 'retina' display, meaning that icons and images will be clearer. There's a new design too, with improved artist information, track and album reviews, artist biographies, discographies and song lyrics.

There's also a new 'discover' tab that shows you the tunes most frequently submitted to Shazam in any of 20 countries. When you tap cover art, shortcut icons appear, allowing you to buy music on iTunes or share it on Twitter and Facebook.

Settings can be customised to make your Shazam experience faster. The new app also offers a better video experience, showing multiple YouTube videos per track, without you needing to leave the app.

The changes should improve an app which has been popular since before the launch of the first iPhone. Making Shazam work with iOS 4's multitasking functionality is a very welcome move, and could see it beat off competition from similar app SoundHound.

Unfortunately, you're still limited to five song identifications a month with the free version of Shazam, but you can upgrade through the app to Shazam Encore for £2.99, which enables unlimited use.

Shazam is also available for Nokia, BlackBerry, Android and Windows Mobile handsets, but, as yet, there's been no talk of an update for these platforms.

Do you use Shazam? How will these changes improve the experience for you? Let us know in the comments section below.