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Whistling for SoundHound

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SEAN BACHER takes SoundHound for a walk and is amazed at how accurately it comes when he calls, or at least identifies songs.
Don’t you just hate it when you hear a song and can’t remember who sang it or, even worse, want to sing along but don’t know the words?

SoundHound to the rescue.

SoundHound is available as a free download from the App Store for the iPad or iPhone. Once installed, instruct it to listen to a song playing on the radio and, within seconds, you will have details of what song is playing and who wrote it – and you even get the album art.

Lets see what tune SoundHound will sing once we put it through the Gadget 5 Question User Test.

1. Is it ready to use?

Download it either through iTunes on your computer and syncronise it with your phone, or download it directly onto your phone. Either way, it is ready to rock ‘n roll in minutes.

2. Is it easy to use?

Tap the SoundHound icon on your phone and you are presented with a neatly laid-out screen with a big orange button that says: ‘What’s that Song? Tap here’. Tap the button and, sure enough, details about the song playing are presented to you in seconds.

Apart from just showing you song details, SoundHound has an option that lets you see the lyrics – an ideal way to stop you sounding like an idiot (not that it’s a guarantee) when you sing along.  It also saves all your searches, which I found useful when I next walked into my local music shop to buy a CD. Yeah, I still do that 20th century stuff.

3. Does it operate as advertised?

SoundHound has an additional feature that lets you buy the song you searched for directly from the iTunes store. Unfortunately that feature does not work in South Africa, but there are ways to get around this. Read ‘How to use iTunes in South Africa’ to find out how.

The software also lets you search for songs by singing or humming directly into the phone. It usually works quite well, although I did battle due to being totally tone-deaf.

4. Is it innovative?

Although there are other vendor variations of SoundHound such as Shazam, I have never come across an application that is so intuitive and accurate. I chose endless songs from my iTunes library, ranging from rock to pop to classical. Each one was correctly identified in a few seconds. It’s not just because they were in iTunes, though. It did the same for samples from my CD collection.

SoundHound can also be downloaded from Nokia’s Ovi store and from the Android Market place.

5. Is it value for money?

The application is free but, as with many free applications, SoundHound comes with the obligatory adverts. These didn’t really bother me as they take up very little screen space and are not in your face.

An upgrade to a paid-for version costs $7, but at first I didn’t see the need to get it as that simply makes it advert-free. SoundHound spotted that particular mistake and there are now additional features or functions that are grayed out or missing in the free version.

In conclusion

iTunes has an Apps Starter Kit which is a list of basic applications every iPhone or iPad user should have on their phone. I am surprised SoundHound is not under this section as I believe it is an application everyone would use if they had it.

Follow Sean on Twitter on @seanbacher

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