Forgotten that song? If you can hum it, Google Assistant can now play it

Google Assistant
(Image credit: Google)

Ever wanted to listen to a song but not been able to remember what it’s called? Of course you have, we all have, and now Google Assistant is making that a whole lot easier, as a recent update means you can hum to it.

Simply launch Google Assistant (or tap the mic icon on the Google Search widget) and ask “what’s this song?” then start humming. Hum for around 10-15 seconds and Google Assistant will then use machine learning to try and identify the song.

It will provide you with a selection of likely matches, so even if you don’t hum it perfectly there’s a good chance one of the options will be right.

It really works

In our limited testing it seems to work well – it correctly identified Modern Love by David Bowie, Blue (Da Ba Dee) by Eiffel 65, and Happy Birthday. It failed to recognize Losing My Religion by R.E.M., but that might say more about our humming than its abilities.

Google’s machine learning models are trained to identify whistling and singing too, so one way or another it has a good chance of identifying a track. And the humming feature isn’t limited to Android – it also works on iOS (though only in English, while the Android version supports more than 20 languages).

Though iOS users have a similar tool powered by Siri, allowing the assistant to recognize spoken or sung lyrics to songs, so this Google feature could perhaps be a response to that.

This new feature is one of a flurry of announcements from Google. The tech giant also announced that it’s massively expanding the live busyness information feature of Google Maps – a tool that’s all the more important in a socially distanced world.

And it’s launching a new spelling algorithm that will improve its ability to understand misspelled words in Search, as well as bringing improvements to the shopping tools on Google Lens. But for those like us who can only remember around 20 song names, the humming feature is definitely the highlight.

James Rogerson

James is a freelance phones, tablets and wearables writer and sub-editor at TechRadar. He has a love for everything ‘smart’, from watches to lights, and can often be found arguing with AI assistants or drowning in the latest apps. James also contributes to, and and has written for T3, Digital Camera World, Clarity Media and others, with work on the web, in print and on TV.