How the Google Pixel Now Playing music feature works to silently identify music around you

Credit: Ashley King

Google Pixel 2 and newer phone models can automatically detect the music you are listening to around you. Here’s how to set it up.

Have you ever heard a song while you were out and didn’t have time to ask your phone for the song? For many music fans, that can be a frustrating experience, but Google’s Pixel phones offer a workaround that feels almost seamless once set up.

Google Pixel 2 and newer models can automatically identify the music you’re listening to around you for future reference, and you can also ask it to identify music for you on the fly. That’s how it works.


    1. Open your phone Ideas apartment
    2. Beat sound and vibration > Running now.
    3. To turn on Identify songs playing nearby – You may need to make sure your phone is charged and connected to WiFi.
    4. Wait a few minutes while your phone downloads the song database.
    5. Once the download is complete, the songs playing around you will be automatically detected and displayed on your phone’s lock screen.

To learn more about a song, tap the song name while your phone is locked. If you’re using your phone, expand Notifications at the top of the screen and tap the song-playing notification.

How to tell Google to identify a song

On Google Pixel 4 and later, you can instruct your phone to identify the music you’re listening to that isn’t already in the database. To enable the feature:

    1. Open your phone Ideas apartment
    2. Beat sound and vibration > Running now.
    3. To turn on Show search button on lock screen.
    4. Tap the Music search icon on your lock screen to search for a song as it plays around you.

How to view recently listened songs

    1. Open your phone Ideas apartment
    2. Beat sound and vibration > Running now.
    3. Make sure that “Show songs on lock screen” is on.
    4. Beat Now story is played out.

All the songs you have heard will be displayed in a list. To share a song or listen to it on the music app of your choice, tap the song. On Pixel 3 and later, you can select multiple songs to listen to, share, or delete from your list.

You can also add a nearby song to your Now Playing favorites list from your lock screen by simply tapping the music note next to the song’s title on the lock screen. Then a heart appears. Tap the music note again to remove the song from your favorites list.

How to check your favorites

    1. Open your phone Ideas apartment
    2. Beat sound and vibration > Running now.
    3. Beat Now story is played out> favourites.
    4. Tap the Heart to remove a song from the favorites list.

If you don’t want to receive song notifications at the top of your screen, you can also turn them off below sound and vibration > Running now. Under notificationsswitch off Approved music notifications. Song information will still appear on your lock screen.

How it works

If music is playing nearby, yours is pixel The phone compares a few seconds of the song to the library on the device to see what’s playing. Processing takes place on your phone and is private to you.

Now Playing collects some information, such as the percentage that music is correctly recognized, to better identify songs. Now Playing only collects this information if you have shared it Use and Diagnosis with Google.

For Pixel 4 and later models, the usage of the feature and the number of songs recognized are aggregated using composite analytics, a so-called data protection technology. This data is used to improve the Now Playing feature and the song database to correctly identify what is being played more often.

In particular, Google can never see what songs you’re listening to – only the most popular songs in different regions. If usage and diagnostic sharing is turned on in your settings, the number of songs detected will be shared with Google.

If you’re using Pixel 4 or later and have “Show search button on lock screen” turned on, each time you tap to search, Google will receive a brief digital audio fingerprint to identify what’s playing.

Only Pixel 2 and newer models can use the Now Playing feature. The original Pixel (2016) model cannot identify songs. In addition, some functions only work on Android 10 and up.

You may also notice that your phone has trouble hearing the songs playing around you when it’s in your pocket. Pull out your phone so it can hear the music clearly when you’re having trouble.