Have you ever had that experience where you're sitting in a Starbucks, at your doctor's office or in an elevator and wondered what song they were playing over the speakers? Maybe it's a song you recognize, but you can't quite put your finger on it. Or maybe it's a new song that you actually like and you want to buy. Now you can "Shazam" that track with Google Assistant too.

One of the signature (and exclusive) features to the new Google Pixel 2 and Pixel 2 XL (the latter of which we recently reviewed) is something called Now Playing. When you enable it, the "always listening" microphone on your phone will show the songs that it hears on your "always on" display.

This only kicks in, though, after the song has been playing for about a minute or so and it's only good with relatively popular songs. Its greatest strength is also its greatest weakness in that it works offline and completely on-device, relying on a saved database. As such, it can't leverage the power of the web to identify more obscure songs.

But remember that app that everyone was using to identify songs long before Now Playing or even the Google Assistant became things? Shazam is still around, but you might not need it anymore. If you call up Google Assistant on any device that supports it -- I tried this on my ZTE Axon Pro, but it conceivably work on the Google Home Mini too -- you can simply ask it "what song is this?" or "what song is playing?"

When you do, Google Assistant will listen for a few seconds (as indicated by the animated vertical bars) and should it be successful in identifying the song, you'll be presented with a card containing more information. I tried it with a couple of songs playing over my PC speakers and it only took about five seconds of audio to come back with a match. I got an excerpt of the lyrics (with a link to the full lyrics), plus the artist, album and release date, as well as links to YouTube, Google Play Music, and the full Google search results.


Pretty handy, even if this new parlor trick is hardly reinventing the wheel.

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