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If your Pixel can’t tell what song is playing, maybe Now Playing’s new cloud search feature can

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Why wasn’t this a thing already?


Google’s Pixel phones have had a feature called Now Playing for years. Basically, your phone keeps a record of several thousand songs for offline detection, letting you identify them when one’s playing nearby. And it works pretty fine. Or at least, it works fine as long as your song is popular-ish. While an offline equivalent to Shazam built right into the system is amazing to have, it couldn’t possibly identiy every song you might run across. Now it looks like cloud search is coming to help do something about that.

The keen-eyed among you might be about to point out that Google has already allowed you to search songs on the cloud for years. And you’d be right. This is functionality that was first present in Google Now/Voice Search and then on Google Assistant — you can ask Google “what song is playing” and the phone will listen and try to pick up whatever song is currently playing. Now Playing, though, provides similar functionality, but makes it automatic and completely offline, so your phone will pick up music even if it’s on Airplane Mode. This new cloud search feature, as uncovered by 9to5Google, seems like the perfect marriage between both.

After enabling it, if your phone can’t tell what song is playing, it will instead give you a shortcut so you can listen to it and identify it in the cloud if an internet connection is available — right from your lock screen. It should theoretically be as efficient as Google’s song ID feature in Search/Assistant, but testing will be needed to confirm that.

We’re expecting it might show up on Pixel phones running Android 12 (the beta, sadly) after updating the Android System Intelligence app. There’s also the chance that this is an A/B rollout, meaning that an update alone won’t do the trick — you’d need to wait a bit.

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Ken Saunders

Freelancer, Gadget collector, Biohacker

Ken Saunders is a freelance writer, gadget collector and Biohacker. Kens’ professional background is in Information Technology as well as Health and Wellness. His experience has given him a broad base from which to approach many topics. He especially enjoys researching and writing articles on the topics of Technology, Food, and all things Freelancing. His articles have appeared in many online sites, including, Andrew Christian, and can learn more about his services at

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