For most of music history, those who heard a tune they liked but didn’t know the name of were left to deal with the mystery on their own. Sure, you could try in vain to hum or sing the tune to friends and family, but if no one could understand your rendition, or if the song was obscure enough, you’d have to go on singing a nameless track to yourself.
Enter: Shazam. This song recognition app changed lives (at least mine). With it, whether you caught the tail end of a song on the radio, or a coffee shop hit grabbed your attention, you could launch Shazam, and assuming the people around you would shut the hell up for 10 seconds, the app would let you know the name of the song and who sings it. Shazam still has trouble with background noise, but at least when it can hear a song, it does a good job at recognizing it. It’s so useful that Apple bought the company, and now it’s just built into your iPhone. That said, other companies have come a long way with their own music recognition capabilities. In fact, Google’s is so good, you can hum or sing a song yourself, and the app will identify the tune. Shazam definitely has some competition.
However, the original music identifier still has some tricks up its sleeve. Case in point: Shazam’s latest update adds the ability to recognize songs while you’re wearing headphones. Sure, you won’t be using it when listening to Apple Music or Spotify (the song title will be a bit obvious in those cases), but if you’re watching a movie or playing a game, you can use Shazam to identify an interesting song that might have otherwise escaped you.
Note: Shazam has had the ability to recognize in-app music playback before, but not while headphones were connected.
How to Shazam a song in an app while wearing headphones
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To try it out, make sure your Shazam app is updated to the latest version, or your iPhone is updated to iOS 17.3. Now, whenever you hear a song you like in an app while wearing headphones, activate Shazam:
On iOS, you can do that from the Control Center tile. If you don’t have it set up, head to Settings > Control Center, then add Music Recognition to Control Center.
On Android, you can either swipe down and choose the Tap to Shazam option from your notifications, or choose the Pop-Up Shazam button that appears when you play music on your phone. If you don’t see these options, you’ll need to set them up. You’ll find options for both features in the settings menu of the Shazam app.
You can still Shazam songs that are playing in the world around you while wearing headphones, too. So long as you don’t play any music on your phone, and your headphones have a microphone, Shazam will pick up song as usual.