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.

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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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