Shazam, the music discovery iPhone application which gained widespread adoption thanks to its appearance in an iPhone TV commercial, is now getting a ton of new features thanks to the launch of a premium application called Shazam Encore. This new application adds music recommendations, trend charts, music searches and more to its core set of features already made available in the free version of Shazam.
Does this mean Shazam is about to give Pandora and the like a run for their money?
About Shazam Encore
The free Shazam application is best known for its nifty tune identification trick. Mobile users can hold their iPhones up next to a speaker or other source of music and the application "listens" to what's being played in order to identify the song and artist. It also lets you read track and album reviews, read artist biographies and tag songs to share with friends over Facebook and Twitter.
The new application, Shazam Encore, adds even more functionality including improved speed performance, trend lists that highlight what's popular among other Shazam users, a search function that taps into a database of 8 million+ songs, music recommendations and a "drive-and-tag" feature that lets the app recognize when it's in an in-car dock so it can identify what's playing on the radio while you're driving.
But How are Those Recommendations?
Out of all the new features, however, it's the music recommendations option which is the most interesting. Recommendations are the killer feature which can either make or break a mobile application these days. With services like Last.fm and Pandora already providing mobile users with playlists based on a user's likes or dislikes, Shazam needs to be able to do recommendations well - really well - in order to compete with these already popular applications.
In addition, the up-and-comer streaming music service from Spotify also partnered with The Echo Nest's music intelligence platform earlier this year to help improve on Spotify's playlist and music discovery functions. The end results of that partnership have been touted as being like the iTunes' "Genius" feature, only better. Although not yet available in the U.S., Spotify's mobile application is one of the most highly anticipated applications as it provides a new way to enjoy music - through playlist creations that can be listened to both online and off. It, too, will be heavy competition for any application entering into the music recommendations game, including, of course, Shazam.
So where does that leave Shazam Encore? At the moment, its recommendations offering provides you with a list of other songs you might like based on the one track you have pulled up. While this might help you discover new music, you aren't able to create a playlist based on those songs. Instead, Shazam's focus remains more on the sharing of music via tagging and posting to Twitter and Facebook.
As far as how good Shazam's recommendations are, we would need to do a lot more testing before giving a solid opinion - the app is just too new. In fact, it's so new that it wasn't even showing up in an iTunes Store search at the time of writing. The provided screenshot in the App Store doesn't look all that encouraging, though. (Really, a fan of indie band My Sad Captains wants to listen to Katy Perry singing about "kissing a girl?" I don't think so...)
But whether or not the recommendations are up to speed, it remains to be seen whether iPhone app shoppers will be willing to fork over the $4.99 US (£2.99/ 3.99) to have access to them, especially when there's no playlist option included.
Those interested in trying the new Encore application can find it now in the App Store by clicking here.