YouTube is testing a new feature to allow people to hum for a song to search for it on the platform. Here’s the latest.
A new experimental YouTube feature reported by some users allows anyone to hum or record three or more seconds of a song to try and identify it. “If you’re in the experiment, you can toggle from YouTube voice search to the new song search feature, and hum or record the song you’re searching for 3+ seconds in order for the song to be identified,” an official support document for the new test reveals.
“Once the song is identified, you’ll be sent to relevant official music content, user-generated videos, and/or Shorts featuring the searched song in the YouTube app,” YouTube says. The test is currently underway for a small percentage of Android users who watch YouTube on their devices.
It’s a little bit like Shazam, in that it aims to open the content you want directly in YouTube or YouTube Music. Google has been experimenting with hum-to-search since 2020 when it introduced the feature to Google Assistant. The YouTube version of this search relies on the same technology, but says the YouTube iteration works faster. That’s because the YouTube version only needs three seconds of audio, whereas the older iteration needed anywhere from 10-15 seconds of humming.
How does the feature work? YouTube says once you’ve finished humming, its machine-learning algorithm helps identify potential song matches. Users don’t need to be able to hum a pitch-perfect tune to get an ID match, either.
Collected data from that Google Assistant feature in 2020 has likely helped train the YouTube model to be much faster. Google says its models are trained to identify songs on a variety of sources, including humans singing, whistling, or humming, and studio recordings.
Google’s Now Playing tech has been built into its Pixel phone series since 2017. This hum-to-search feature making its way to YouTube is a natural extension of that, bringing a Shazam-like experience to Android users without the need for a separate app—and one that funnels users into YouTube and YouTube Music rather than asking them to download Apple Music.