Google can now guess what song is stuck in your head

Pixel 4a Alex Google Launcher Assistant
Pixel 4a Alex Google Launcher Assistant (Image credit: Alex Dobie / Android Central)

What you need to know

  • Google can now identify a song that you're whistling or humming.
  • The service is already live for almost everyone.
  • It's using Google's sophisticated cloud AI infrastructure to do something fun as well as helpful.

During Google's SearchOn 2020 live stream the company announced quite a few updates and improvements to its search machine, but it left the best for last. After the useful but not nearly as fun announcements about what AI can do when mixed in with information gathering, we learned that you can now have Google tell you the name of a song by humming or whistling its tune.

On top of being a showcase of what an advanced AI and neural computing can do, It's actually really cool. I'm pretty bad when it comes to humming or whistling, but it really does work. How it works is interesting — a Google AI cluster in the cloud analyzes the tune you're humming, presumably turns it into a digital waveform, then helps sort through the mountain of data that was fed into the AI. When it finds a match, it spits it back out with a link to the proper YouTube video. It's probably using the same AI that Google already uses to identify music on the Pixel lock screen through the Now Playing feature.

Source: Android Central (Image credit: Source: Android Central)

But forget interesting AI stuff. This one is just too cool to worry about the why or the how. The most important part is the "wow" factor it brings and how even something as dry and boring as AI can make fun things happen.

It's live right now for almost everyone (English only from what I can tell), so you can try it, too. Just grab your phone, ask Google Assistant, "What song is this?" then start humming or whistling until it tells you the answer. It's not perfect every time (it told me Für Elise was a Johnny Cash song once while playing with it), but it's right often enough to be useful. It uses the cloud, so you'll have to be online, and there are no new terms of service, so it falls under the Google Assistant privacy umbrella. Your slightly out-of-tune humming is going to a Google server to be further analyzed, but it's anonymous.

Give it a shot with whatever earworm might be living inside your head and have a little fun!

Jerry Hildenbrand
Senior Editor — Google Ecosystem

Jerry is an amateur woodworker and struggling shade tree mechanic. There's nothing he can't take apart, but many things he can't reassemble. You'll find him writing and speaking his loud opinion on Android Central and occasionally on Twitter.