Shazam Will Bring Always-On Audio Tagging to iPhone This Summer

By Cameron Scott 

media apps, social media, shazam, rich rileyIn its update for iOS two months ago, Shazam quietly launched a feature for iPad users called auto-tag, which allowed users to leave Shazam’s tagging, or sound-identifying, feature on, even when they weren’t interacting with the tablet. Expect to hear more about the feature later this summer when Shazam launches the feature for iPhone as well.

“We affectionately call it ‘club mode,’ said Rich Riley, the CEO of Shazam, speaking at a mobile technology conference in San Francisco.

The company has had to do major back-end and user-facing adjustments to support the feature. The app has 350 million users who generate 15 million tags per day. If a percentage of those users use the auto-tagging feature for a number of hours while at a dance club or at home watching television, they could increase the number of tags by “an order of magnitude,” Riley said, presenting back-end challenges for Shazam.

The company has also worked to ensure that the feature won’t drain users’ batteries, said Riley. As for how much it impacts the battery life, Riley would only say, “it does not change your charging behavior.”

Shazam also saves tags in a list to help users remember the media they’ve heard during the day. Riley said the company has had to rethink the user experience of the feature to ensure that users can delete tags for the content they auto-tagged and may not be interested in. He also indicated Shazam is looking at sorting options for tags.

“If you watch TV for a few yours, you can have a lot of tags. How to do you manage them?” Riley said.

Shazam has 30 million pieces of audio content in its database and adds a million per month, according to Riley. The company is continuing to push farther into commercial television content, providing custom-built mobile ads for users who tag television programming or advertisements. That effort puts it in head-to-head competition with Twitter.