Shazam for Android review: A sleek and simple namer-of-tunes for Android

The updated Shazam app for Android is simpler and looks better than ever before.

Jaymar Cabebe

Jaymar Cabebe

Former Associate Editor

Jaymar Cabebe covers mobile apps and Windows software for CNET. While he may be a former host of the Android Atlas Weekly podcast, he doesn't hate iOS or Mac. Jaymar has worked in online media since 2007.

See full bio
4 min read

CNET editors pick the products and services we write about. When you buy through our links, we may get a commission.

The precursor to other services like SoundHound and Google Sound Search, Shazam is the original name-that-tune app. Once you have it installed, you can use it to identify, or "tag," a song that's playing within earshot. For a long time, Shazam was hampered by a downright ugly interface. But with its recent redesign, the simple and effective functionality of the app finally gets the attractive packaging it deserves.


Shazam for Android

The Good

<b>Shazam</b> has a gorgeous interface that's simple to use. Song identifications are reliable, and extras like the LiveLyrics feature are valuable.

The Bad

Unlike SoundHound, Shazam can't identify songs that are hummed or sung. Also, when it successfully identifies a song, it doesn't offer quite as many links or resources as its competitor.

The Bottom Line

Shazam lacks a few of rival SoundHound's power features, but without question, it looks better and is easier to use.

Shazam comes in a free ad-supported version and a paid ad-free version called Shazam Encore.

A close look at Shazam for Android (pictures)

See all photos

When you first install Shazam on your device, the app asks you to sign up to receive your tags by e-mail. While it may not be clear, Shazam does not require a log-in to use, so if you're not interested in this feature, then be sure to hit the Skip button on the bottom.

Visually, Shazam is stunning, with its clean, white interface and high-resolution squared thumbnails. Also, it's easy to navigate the app, as its features are all broken down into four pages: Tagging, My Tags, Chart, and Friends. You can swipe laterally between them, or simply tap a shortcut on the navigation bar up top.

Tagging songs
Shazam's Tagging screen, the default screen that opens upon launch, is where all the magic happens. To get started here, just hit the big Shazam button in the middle, and make sure your phone can "hear" the music that's playing for at least a few seconds. As expected, this part of the process is affected by the sensitivity of your mobile device's microphone, so you may have to turn the music up or get closer to the source if the app doesn't get a good sample. Typically, a few seconds is all it takes for Shazam to recognize the unique signature of the song in question and pull up a profile.

Shazam's newest update included a completely cleaned-up interface.

For the most part, Shazam's song recognition capabilities seem on par with or better than other apps in its category. When tested with the same songs, SoundHound and Shazam typically both did the deed in a few seconds, save for a few songs that were identifiable by only one of the services. Performance-wise, I'd say the two here are a wash.

One spot where Shazam falls short is with tagging songs that are sung or hummed by a user. SoundHound can sometimes identify such song samples, while Shazam needs to the hear an original recording to do its thing. On the other hand, Shazam also has a special power of its own: the ability to identify TV shows. It may not be all that useful, since cable menus often have all the info you need, but it's still worth mentioning, since SoundHound can't do it.

Once Shazam does tag a song, it doesn't just give you the title and artist. In fact, it pulls up an info page where you can see an artist bio, discography, and album information. It also gives you links to ringtones, lyrics, song-related YouTube videos, and the song's page on Rdio (in case you have the Rdio app installed). If you want to purchase the song, you can do that, too, through the on-page Amazon link. Altogether, the info offered here is useful, but it's still not as comprehensive as what SoundHound offers. For instance, SoundHound's info page also has links to tour dates and tickets, similar artists, and even remixes. So, in this regard, SoundHound does take a slight edge.

Nifty extras
One of Shazam's coolest features is LiveLyrics. Once you tag a song, this feature can give you an artsy, full-screen visualization of a song's lyrics, all synchronized, in real-time, to the music that you're listening to. It's a fun feature that is unquestionably a step above SoundHound's similar feature.

The LiveLyrics feature offers stylized visualizations of a song's lyrics, synced in real time to the song that's playing.

Beyond, the tagging screen, Shazam lets you check out worldwide charts of the most popular songs tagged by users. Also, with built-in social features, it lets you share your tags and see those of friends. What Shazam for Android is missing, though, is the iOS version's Explore screen, which shows you tagged songs on a world map. While the missing feature isn't terribly useful, it is important to note the difference between Shazam's versions.

Final thoughts
With its most recent update, the newly beautified Shazam for Android pulls up just next to its competitor SoundHound in the song-identification space. The app is easy on the eyes, simple to use, and offers a good deal of useful information for tagged songs. Also, the LiveLyrics feature is a nifty one that's a bit more visually impressive than SoundHound's analogous feature.

With both Shazam and SoundHound showing strengths in different areas, it's difficult to say which one is definitively better. If you're looking for a good-looking app that provides a simple way to identify songs on the go, then Shazam is it. On the other hand, if you need power features like humming recognition and links to similar artists, then SoundHound is a better fit.


Shazam for Android

Score Breakdown

Setup 10Features 8Interface 10Performance 8