Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Shazam - Splash screen

Hey DJ, play that song again please… Which song?

Have you ever had a melody stuck in your head, without knowing which song it is? And though it is played over and over on the radio, in the bus, everywhere, you still haven't figured out what song it is. Nerve-wrecking, we know... Today, we are taking a look at an App that has been touted to be a perfect solution for such frustrating times - Shazam!

What is Shazam?

Shazam, from Shazam Entertainment, is available as a free (limited functionality) or a paid (full version) application for Blackberry phones. The app helps you identify the song that is being played over the radio on the phone itself, or from a nearby music source. Shazam is available on several other mobile phone platforms such as Android, iOS (the free version providing full functionality) and Symbian; the app is also pre-installed on many feature phones, such as the 2008 slider from Motorola, the ZN200 (marketed as Moto Yuva in India)

Shazam - Homescreen

The fact that we would even need such an App may sound ridiculous, but the app is laudably accurate and has proven to be quite worthwhile (in getting rid of nagging tunes inside our heads). While the App is available for several mobile platforms and phones, this review focuses on the Shazam app for Blackberry phones. Click through to read the rest of this review.

Where do I get Shazam from?

The Shazam app can be downloaded via the Shazam website or the Blackberry App World. Of course, the free version is the one we’re reviewing. If you really fall head-over-heels in love with the app, you can try out a 7-day trial of the premium version and then pick it up for the cost of US$5 (about Rs. 240/-). The latest version of Shazam for BlackBerry is version 2.6. We should also mention that this App requires Internet access on your Blackberry - so if you are using only e-mail and IM on your Blackberry, you might want to upgrade to a full Internet solution before trying out this app.

How it works

Shazam helps you identify the song that is being played (and Shazam calls this act, “tagging”). As simple as that! So, next time you hear a song that you like (but don't know), turn to your trusty new friend - Shazam.

Shazam - Tagging   Shazam - Listening

(clockwise from top-left) Shazam – Tagging, Listening, Sending, Matching

Shazam - Matching   Shazam - Sending

Select 'Tag Now'; Shazam will “listen” to the song that is being played, try to match that with the songs in its database (in the server), and present you with the song, artist, and album names. It also gives you the option to read a full review of the album, purchase a ringtone of the tune (on Jamster), purchase the song (on Amazon - which will not work in India), find it on YouTube, or get the album's discography. All these options are available for your viewing pleasure in our screenshots.

Shazam - More info  Shazam - Buy ringtones

Shazam – Options (Clockwise from top-left: More info, Buy ringtone, No Match error, Paid version note)

Shazam - Paid version notice  Shazam - No match

Apparently, you can even tweet your new tag, but we just couldn’t get this feature to work for us. When we tried logging into twitter via Shazam, we were presented with error message stating that the login details were incorrect. We assure you though, the login details we entered were accurate.

Shazam - My tags  Shazam - My tags list

Shazam – Tags (Clockwise from top-left : A “tag”, My Tags list, Tag chart, an entry in the Tag chart)

Shazam - Tag chart entry  Shazam - Tag chart list

If you happen to listen to a song, and are able to catch some of the lyrics of the song, Shazam gives you the option to key in those few lines and look for the song as well. The free version only allows you to tag a maximum of 5 songs per month. But the the premium version allows unlimited tagging, and also gives you the option of looking for more info about the song (who needs this really, when we can use Google on our phones?!).

Shazam - Lyrics search 01  Shazam - Lyrics search 02

Shazam – Finding songs using lyrics (Clockwise from top-left : Lyrics search, Searching, search results)

Shazam - Lyrics search 03



Shazam - Share tag options  Shazam - Share tag via e-mail

Shazam – Sharing a tag (Left: Options; Right: Sharing a tag via e-mail)

If you'd like to know more about how the App operates in real-time, feel free to view the two videos below.


The decree? To buy or not to buy?

Shazam has been quite accurate in identifying all English and even Western Classical music tracks. However, when trying to tag an Indian film song, Shazam identified the song and album names correctly, but the album cover image was something totally unrelated. It is also said that the app does not work well for live performances, or if there is a lot of ambient (environmental) noise. The Shazam app is very exciting to use initially. Seriously speaking, though, how often do we listen to songs that we don't really know? If you answered “More than 5 times a month” then you might want to take that 7-day trial of the Premium app and decide if it’s worth the money. If you answered “Less than 5 times a month” then just head over to the Blackberry App world and pick up the free version of Shazam.


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