Google Super Charges Song Identification Tool

Google has introduced a “faster, more accurate” version of its Sound Search music identification tool and integrated it into the Now Playing feature introduced last year on its Pixel 2 smartphone.

The updated tool, available for the Google Search app or the Google Assistant on any Android phone, can identify tens of millions of songs, according to Google.

“Just start a voice query, and if there’s music playing near you, a “What’s this song?” suggestion will pop up for you to press,” Google explained in a blog post announcing the update. “Otherwise, you can just ask, “Hey Google, what’s this song?”

For its Now Playing tool, Google developed a system around “convolutional neural networks” that turns a few seconds of audio into a unique “fingerprint,” which is compared against an on-device database holding tens of thousands of songs. “In contrast, the server-side Sound Search system is very different, having to match against ~1,000 times as many songs as Now Playing,” Google wrote in the blog.

To accommodate a library of songs numbering in the tens of millions, Google quadrupled the size the neural networks it uses to identify songs, and increased the size and number of “embeddings” used in the song identification process to "reduce the amount of work the neural network has to do.

“We also decided to weight our index based on song popularity — in effect, for popular songs, we lower the matching threshold, and we raise it for obscure songs,” Google said. “Overall, this means that we can keep adding more (obscure) songs almost indefinitely to our database without slowing our recognition speed too much.”

Google said other upgrades are in the works, including improving the speed and accuracy of music identification in noisy environments.

For more on Now Playing and Sound Search, visit