Top 3 iPhone Music ID Apps: Quickly Identify Unknown Songs

Don't know the name of the song you're listening to? Use a music ID app!

Music Discovery Versus Music ID

Typical music apps for the iPhone usually concentrate on finding known songs and artists using online music services. This content is normally delivered via streaming or cached (downloaded) to your device. Some apps also give you a way to discover similar songs based on what you have already searched for. However, when you aren't using these music discovery apps and services, there can be times when you'll hear a great sounding song (on TV or radio etc.) and wish you knew the name of it.

In this case, it's always handy to have a music app on your iPhone that can identify the songs you are listening to. Methods vary in how this type of tool (commonly referred to as a music ID app) identifies music tracks, but most use some form of online database. Some will utilize your iPhone's built-in microphone to sample part of a song to try and accurately identify it. This audio fingerprint is then matched with an online database -- well known ones include: Gracenote MusicID and Shazam. Other apps work by matching lyrics to identify songs -- these rely on you typing in a few lyrics which are then matched using an online lyrics database.

To help you name that tune, take a look at the list below (in no particular order) that highlights some of the best music ID apps to download for your iPhone.

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Shazam. Image © Shazam Entertainment Ltd.

Shazam is one of the most popular apps used for identifying unknown songs and music tracks. It works by using the iPhone's built-in microphone -- ideal if you want to quickly find out the name of a tune. The Shazam app is free to download from the iTunes Store and gives you unlimited tagging with information such as track name, artist, and lyrics. There's also the facility to add more features by upgrading to the paid-for Shazam Encore app -- this is ad-free and offers more functionality. More »

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SoundHound. Image © SoundHound Inc.

SoundHound works in a similar way to Shazam by using the microphone on your iPhone to sample part of a song in order to try and identify it. With SoundHound you can also find out the name of a track by using your own voice -- you can either hum or sing into the microphone which comes in useful for times when you can't hold your iPhone up to a sound source.

The free version of SoundHound which can be downloaded from the iTunes App Store is ad-supported (like Shazam) and gives you an unlimited number of music ID's. More »

MusicID with Lyrics
MusicID with Lyrics. Image © Gravity Mobile

MusicID with Lyrics uses two main methods for identifying unknown songs. You can either use the iPhone's microphone to grab the audio fingerprint of a song, or type in a lyrics phrase to try and identify it. This makes the app more flexible in how you can use it to find the name of a song. You can also use the MusicID app to: watch YouTube music videos, look up artist biographies, see similar sounding tracks, and add geo-tags to recognized songs. There's also the facility to directly buy the songs you identify from the iTunes Store.

At the time of writing, MusicID with Lyrics costs 99 cents to download from the iTunes App Store. More »

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