The $6 Shazam Encore by Shazam Entertainment is one of the original music search apps available for the iPhone and iPod touch. For the unfamiliar, Shazam (and other apps in this category) listens to music playing around you and identifies the song, artist, and album with other relevant information.
Upon launching the app, you tap a button to tell it to start listening. Within several seconds, Shazam Encore returns with song information and actions that you can perform. (In Shazam’s parlance, this process is called “tagging” a song.) In a semi-scientific test in a quiet room, playing a variety of music at normal volume, Shazam Encore tagged songs in times ranging widely from 2 to 10 seconds with very accurate results. It also performed admirably in noisy environments. (Of course, your mileage may vary.) You’re not limited to tagging by sound; Shazam also provides a Search option where you can do a text-based search by song title, artist or album. You can also tag songs that are currently playing on your iOS device’s Music app.
See how Shazam compares to other music identification apps for iOS
Unlike some rival apps, Shazam Encore doesn’t flood you with every possible nugget of information it can find. Instead, it provides a nice balance of useful information and activities, presented in a simple scrolling list. Of course, it provides the song title, album name and cover art. iTunes links are scattered throughout so that you can hear a sample of the tagged song, buy the song, or view a list of related songs. YouTube video links are also available, as well as an artist bio, album reviews, and concert info. When song lyrics are available, they’re provided either as a simple sheet or scrolling in time with the music. A MyTags link takes you to a list of songs you’ve recently tagged.
No app would be complete without social sharing options, so you can share your tagged songs via Facebook, Twitter, or email. There’s also a Discover button where you can view a list of the most-tagged songs by other users of the app and a Friends section where you can you follow other users and view the songs they’ve tagged. Shazam Encore also integrates with Pandora and Spotify for users of those services.
I was pleased with how quickly Shazam Encore identifies most songs, even in noisy environments, and how it presents a nice mix of information in a simple, no-nonsense fashion. Since Shazam Encore is aware of music on your device, it would be nice if it supplied playback controls within the app. The free Shazam Player provides this capability, while including many of Shazam’s other features (except music search). Splitting this into two separate apps seems a little disjointed to me; I’d like to see those features merged into a single app.
If you’d like to give the app a spin before spending your $6, then you can download the ad-supported free version called just Shazam. It includes all the features of Shazam Encore with the exception of Pandora and Spotify support. As an added bonus, the developer also offers Shazam for iPad, as a separate download for Apple’s tablet. The features in Shazam for iPad are similar to the iPhone version but with a display optimized nicely for the iPad’s larger screen and also including a useful Releases option, which lists all the albums published by the selected artist.
[Brian Beam is a musician, software designer and partner with web development firm BOLD Internet Solutions, living somewhere near Kansas City.]