'You hum it, I'll play it' finally comes to music streaming – thanks, YouTube Music

A phone displaying the Google search feature with the text 'what is this song?'
Google first added the ability to search songs by humming to mobile devices in 2020. (Image credit: Google)

There's good news for anybody suffering from earworms who has an Android phone: the "hum to search" feature that YouTube Music was experimenting with is now rolling out as a fully fledged feature in the Android app. It's a kind of Shazam for earworms, although instead of having to hear the actual track in order to recognize it, the feature listens to your version of it and tries to work out what it is based on your performance – whether that be humming or singing. 

It's a fair bet that the feature will do a better job of recognizing the likes of Billie Eilish's Lunch than Pitchfork Impalement by Cannibal Corpse. But if you can do a reasonable job of humming, singing or playing the melody then the app should be able to tell you what the song is and enable you to play it and/or add it to your music library like one of the best music streaming services

How to use Hum To Search

Using the feature is just as simple as the search for songs function that was added to YouTube Music in March. All you need to do is tap on the search icon, which is identified by the magnifying glass icon in the top right hand corner. That now has an additional icon next to the familiar microphone that's for voice search. The new icon is of a sound wave, and that's the one you want here. Tap on that and the YouTube Music app will ask you to hum, sing or play the song you're trying to identify. It'll then compare your version to its huge database of music.

This isn't a new feature – it's been around since 2020 as a Google experiment in English on iOS and across 20 different languages on Android, and it was a key feature of the Soundhound music service for several years before Google decided to do something similar. But Google clearly thinks that the feature is now good enough to roll out as part of the standard app rather than tagging it as an experiment.

The new feature appears to be Android-first, although an iOS version shouldn't be too far behind. It also appears to be multi-lingual: Android Authority has tested it in multiple languages with good results each time. If it hasn't yet arrived on your Android phone, make sure you have the latest version of the app as it appears to be available from version 7.02.

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Carrie Marshall

Writer, broadcaster, musician and kitchen gadget obsessive Carrie Marshall (Twitter) has been writing about tech since 1998, contributing sage advice and odd opinions to all kinds of magazines and websites as well as writing more than a dozen books. Her memoir, Carrie Kills A Man, is on sale now. She is the singer in Glaswegian rock band HAVR.