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Shazam’s iPad App Now Listens for Music, TV Automatically

Update also shaves down ID time for content recognition

Shazam, the content-recognition app developer, has finally added a critical feature that media companies and advertisers have been seeking for years — the ability to ID songs, TV shows and ads without having to be told.

Until now, every time users wanted to “Shazam” a song or TV show to get more info, they have needed to initiate the audio-based content-recognition sequence. The new iPad app eliminates that step, by constantly listening for media and pulling up the associated tags in a carousel at the top of the screen.

“The one lingering concern from our partners was, maybe a 30-second TV ad is not long enough for someone to pull out their device and Shazam a commercial,” said David Jones, Shazam’s exec VP of marketing. “As a TV companion app, this feature is a big deal.”

The enhanced iPad app also identifies content much faster — within one to three seconds, compared with up to 12 seconds to get a recognition previously. Jones said Shazam shifted to a new algorithm that more quickly predicts a match based on probability.

Privately held company does not disclose revenue. Shazam has run more than 200 TV ad campaigns worldwide, each representing “six figures per campaign,” Jones said.

Fox Broadcasting and Fiat will be sponsors of the new iPad app for the first three months after launch. Fox has teamed with Shazam for its sync-to-broadcast Fox Now apps to provide enhanced content tied to on-air programming.

In the U.S., Shazam creates live “fingerprints” for 160 broadcast and cable channels nationwide. On a device, the app creates a 10-kilobyte file based on the audio it’s listening to; that’s sent to Shazam’s servers for a lookup in one-tenth of a second. Currently Shazam does not support local TV broadcasts or ads, “but obviously we are looking at that,” Jones said.

Other features of the new iPad app: a way to browse what friends have been watching and listening to (if they’ve opted in); an interactive map that shows what music people are listening to in any city around the world; full-screen lyrics playback in time with the music; and integration with Spotify and Rdio streaming music services.

Shazam’s auto-tagging feature currently is limited to only the iPad, but the company intends to bring it to other platforms with a version of the app for Android devices slated for sometime this summer.

London-based Shazam claims to have more than 300 million users of its apps in 200 countries, including more than 90 million in the U.S.

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