Shazam built a name for itself by letting you tap a button on your phone to identify songs playing on a radio, on TV, at a club, or anywhere else. Now the Shazam app can also identify TV shows.

Just hold your phone or tablet close enough to the TV so that the mic can pick up the audio, and tap the Shazam button and it will use your location and the available audio to try to figure out what you’re watching.


That’s a cool party trick — but the truth is that you probably have an electronic program guide on your TV that will tell you the same thing.

What makes the new Shazam for TV service cool is that it also includes links to cast information, IMDB entries, celebrity buzz and other data. The company is marketing the new TV service as a “second screen” feature that lets you get more information about the programs you’re watching — and you don’t even need to search for them manually. Shazam will identify the programs with a tap of a button.

At least that’s the idea. Shazam says the new TV service should be able to tag programs on any channel at any time of day. But it doesn’t seem to be a fan of daytime television on obscure broadcast channels.

The app had no problem identifying noon broadcasts of The People’s Court or Who Wants To Be A Millionaire from my home TV, but it didn’t know what to do with reruns of Dragnet, Hawaii 5-0, or  Maury.

It’s also not much use with content on your DVR, because part of the magic happens when Shazam identifies your location and checks local program listings. In other words, that episode of Lost that’s been sitting on your DVR for the last few years is going to confuse the heck out of Shazam.

The latest version of Shazam for iOS already includes the new TV features. They should be coming to the company’s apps for other platforms soon.

Brad Linder

Brad Linder is editor of Liliputing and Mobiputing. He's been tinkering with mobile tech for decades and writing about it since...