Google ‘Hum to search’: How to find the song stuck in your head

You’re walking down the street, listening to a radio channel. You’re not paying much attention to the songs and their lyrics, you’re just looking for a pleasant distraction while you go about your day. As the tracks go by, your subconscious mind picks up a tune it likes, pings you to remember the exact source and lyrics.

Unfortunately, your conscious mind fails to recall the details, as it wasn’t paying much heed to it at the time. So, now, you’re left with a vague tune in your head, with no lyrics and no name. Generally, we learn to live with the earworm, and eventually push it down.

Google, fortunately, thought long and hard about this issue and has given us the perfect solution. Dubbed as ‘Hum to search,’ Google’s newest addition to its Machine Learning-aided solutions would change the game for good, and today, we’ll tell you all you need to know about it. So, without further ado, let’s get to it.

What does ‘Hum to search’ mean?

Starting on October 15th, Google is allowing users to search for a song in the most innovative and convenient way. Thanks to ‘Hum to search,’ you can literally hum a song you want to find and Google would present you a list of related songs. Interestingly, Google even ranks the potentially related songs based on how much your hum — or whistling — matched with the original tune. So, the next time you forget a song, all you have to do is hum the tune to Google and let the ingenious search engine take care of the rest.

How does ‘Hum to search’ work?

As we mentioned in the introduction, ‘Hum to search’ is completely built on industry-leading Machine Learning. Google has been continuously striving to break new grounds in Machine Learning, and the firm has done something really special this time around. Google has taught — and is teaching — its machines to recognize the tunes of the songs and analyze them with absolute precision.

Google’s Machine Learning works by breaking the songs into number-based sequences. These sequences represent the melody of the song, devoid of the vocals and instruments. This makes sure your hum or whistling is enough to fetch even the most complicated songs.

Once you record and send your hum or whistle, Google immediately goes to work, comparing the hum/whistle sequence with thousands of song sequels across the world. If and when it finds the matches, it gives you a list of songs that resemble your original humming pattern.

Google already had a feature called ‘Now Playing’ — which could recognize a song playing in the background by comparing the recorded sequence with millions of songs across the world. ‘Hum to search’ takes Google’s ‘Now Playing’ to a whole new level — as now, all it’d take is a hum.

Related: In-Depth Features Comparison: ‘Chromecast With Google TV’ v/s Old Chromecasts, Fire TV Stick and Roku Devices

How to find songs using ‘Hum to Search’

‘Hum to search’ has been cooked into Google’s search bar with a server-side update. This makes sure you’re not required to download a separate app to use the functionality.

So, to use Google’s ‘Hum to search’ you’ll first need to fire up either the latest version of the Google app or locate the Google Search Widget. Now, tap the microphone icon and say “what’s this song?” — or tap on “Search a song” —  and hum the tune of the song for 10 to 15 seconds. Alternatively, you could call up Google Assistant with the “Hey, Google” hot-word and ask it to recognize the hum.

If the recording is successful and Google finds a match, you’d be presented with a list of songs that resemble your humming/whistling pattern.

‘Hum to search’ Availability – Languages, regions, and platforms

As per Google, the functionality has started rolling out to both Android and iOS platforms. However, since it’s a server-side update, not everyone would get this feature at the same time. Depending on your region, you could be forced to wait a little longer.

If you’re on Android, you can enjoy the feature in over 20 global languages. iOS, users, on the other hand, will have to make do with English for the time being. Even though it seems a bit restrictive at the time, Google has promised to extend the support to more languages in the coming days.

Related: List of commands available for Google Assistant

‘Hum to search’ limitations

‘Hum to search’ is an impressive technological marvel and has the potential of making our life a lot easier. However, since the feature is still in its early days, there could be a few caveats.

The first of those is availability — as it might not be available globally at the time of writing. However, this issue should get resolved automatically in the coming weeks.

Another issue is Google’s restricted library — for now, at least. Unless the song you’re searching for is super popular, Google could return empty-handed. So, if you’re more into obscure alternative music, Google’s ‘Hum to search’ might not be that useful.

Related: How To Add, Use, Edit, and Delete Google Assistant Shortcuts

‘Hum to search’ alternative

‘Hum to search’ is an excellent addition to Google’s growing list of features, but it’s not exactly revolutionary. SoundHound implemented this feature quite a while back and even has a dedicated app on Android. You get pretty much the same features as Google’s ‘Hum to search’, but you’d need to fire up a separate app to get there. Google, on convenience alone, pulls ahead of SoundHound.


Posted by

A mediocre engineer hoping to do something extraordinary with his pen (well, keyboard). Loves Pink Floyd, lives football, and is always up for a cup of Americano.