Facebook has added another weapon in its battle against Twitter to host lucrative conversations about media. A Shazam-esque opt-in feature coming to the iOS and Android status composer can activate your phone’s microphone, recognize a TV show you’re watching or song you’re listening to, and tag it in your News Feed post.
Friends can then listen to a 30-second preview of songs or see a link to a TV show’s Page.
Facebook built the audio recognition feature from scratch over the last year and will roll it out to iOS and Android users in the U.S. over the coming weeks. It’s an extension of the feelings and activity sharing option rolled out last year that resides in the little emoticon icon in the status composer. Facebook says 5 billion posts have used the option to share what you’re feeling (excited, tired, happy etc.), doing (Drinking coffee, playing baseball), or what media you’re enjoying. Soon that last one will be much easier to share thanks to the audio ID feature since you won’t have to know the name of the song or the show, and won’t have to type it.
If users don’t turn it on, nothing will change about their Facebook experience. But if they do, they’ll see a little audio levels indicator (in picture below) when they open the status composer that can identify any of the millions of songs or TV shows on 160 channels (U.S. only). The song or show will then appear in the list of activities you can choose from, and be added to a post with one tap.
Thanks to APIs from Spotify, Rdio, and Deezer, users will also be able to listen to 30-second audio previews of the songs that their friends shared in-line with the Facebook News Feed. Licensing issues limit the ability to show video previews, so Facebook just displays the season and episode number, a thumbnail image, and a link to the show’s Facebook Page instead.
According to TechCrunch, the feature was able to identify popular songs, TV shows like Game Of Thrones, and even live TV like CNBC’s “Closing Bell” — sometimes in as little as six seconds.
Facebook also says that it can recognize live sports — a popular topic in social media feeds that could be even more prevalent now. One shortcoming is that Facebook’s song database is still fairly limited and can’t ID more obscure tracks. It also can’t detect what you’re playing through your phone’s headphones, only what’s heard is allowed, unless you’re using the default iPhone or Android audio player. So no tagging Spotify songs you’re silently jamming to on the bus.
The launch could spell trouble for audio ID heavyweights SoundHound and industry leader Shazam, which now has 90 million users and just raised $3 million more bringing it to $95 million in total funding. After people find out “what’s the name of this awesome song on the radio”, a common use case for these apps is sharing to social networks.
It seems, Facebook wants to cut out the middleman, and put the feature in one of the most ubiquitous apps in the world. However, Shazam has an index of over 25 million songs, meaning it’s much more likely to be able to nail down even the more exotic tracks.