HFS: iPhone apps

August 5, 2008

Not HFS the file system.  HFS as in Holy…yeah, you get the point.  I’ve been downloading iPhone apps since the store opened, and haven’t paid a dime for any.  Nor a penny.  Nor a farthing.  They have varying degrees of awesomeness for being free, but two tonight made me kick myself in the face like it’s 2001 and I just found real ultimate power.

The two I’m talking about are Labyrinth LE and Shazam.  With Labyrinth, the physics are preposterously accurate right out of the gate on the first release.  I’m just shocked.  But it was Shazam that just now made me walk around the block, knock on every neighbor’s door, give the entire family a wedgie, then go and sit in the park, rocking back and forth, questioning God.

How does it work?  You basically the the app to start “listening” and hold the phone up to a speaker with a song playing.  It listens for about 10 seconds, sends the data to some server, and you immediately get back the artist, song, title and cover art and links to songs.  In sum total about 15 seconds from hitting the button to listen to getting the result.  To test with varying degrees of difficulty, I’ve tried the following songs:

  • Beatles: Maxwell’s Silver Hammer (start of song)
  • Beck – The Golden Age (start of song)
  • Chet Baker – The Thrill is Gone (start of song)
  • Crystal Method – Name of the Game (middle of song)
  • David Bowie: Rebel Rebel (start of song)
  • Def Leppard – Photograph (start of song)
  • Fiona Apple – Sleep to Dream (start of song)
  • Franz Ferdinand – Take Me Out (middle of song)
  • GnR – Move to the City (middle of song
  • Jet – Look What You’ve Done (start of song)
  • Moby – Porcelain (middle of song) (FAIL – returned Utah Saints – Power to the Beats but showed right album cover)
  • Moby – Porcelain (start of song) (now success)
  • Nirvana – Serve the Servants (start of song)
  • Juliana Hatfield – Bottles and Flowers (middle of song) (FAIL)
  • NIN – Pinion (middle of song) (you’ve got to be kidding me that it found this one – it’s static)
  • Pet Shop Boys – DJ Culture (start of song)
  • Saint Etienne – Sadie’s Anniversary (start of song)
  • Sneaker Pimps – 6 Underground (start of song)
  • Yelle – A Cause des Garcons lepr remix (start of song) (FAIL)
  • ZZ Top – I’m Bad, I’m Nationwide (middle of song)

So, not the most esoteric music – but I tried albums from different decades and parts of songs that weren’t very unique or identifiable.  I have no idea if or how fast this group is adding to their song database, but this is already pretty shocking.  May if you only listen to didgerridoo music you may have fewer hits.

This application makes WeatherBug, Tap Tap, Pandora and other apps I thought weere really impressive…a little less so.  Who am I kidding – Pandora is pretty freaking cool.

So, over a thousand apps created already for the iPhone.  Many free.  Downloads mind-blowingly simple and painless like GHNS.  Every time I get down on Apple for their proprietary ways, they subtly sedate my with new opium like the rest of the masses. “I hate myself for loving you.”

7 Responses to “HFS: iPhone apps”

  1. Anonymous Says:

    Sony Ericsson phones have somethng almsot identical – it’s called TrackID.

  2. DanielW Says:

    Well, at least Shazam is nothing unique to the iphone.

    It has been around for other phones for a very long time (years?).

    But because Apple thinks it is best for the customers not to “own” eh.. control their phones iPhone users couldn’t get it till now. So you are happy about getting at least some control over your phone. yeah, thanks apple…

    And yes, also I do not like that, I thought about getting one. But in the end not being able to have more than one application running and have them in the background and the fact that you can not just get one without a contract without some weird tricks are deal breakers for me.

    And I also must admit that the app store is very well done. Other vendors (yes, Nokia I am talking about you) are selling phones for years now with the ability to install software but they still didn’t manage to deliver to create something as easy as the app store.

  3. fish Says:

    I’ll wait for Android.

  4. sandsmark Says:

    Don’t they use musicbrainz?


  5. meh, Shazam (under another name) has been around for Nokias for ages.
    Nothing to see here, move on🙂

  6. 138 Says:

    Not to be are killjoy or anything, but similar service existed here in Finland something like five years ago (and everyone knows five years in internet time translates to 5000 years in real time :)). It basicly worked same way, one had a mobile phone and number to call, then you held your mobile up to a speaker and the service recognised (or atleast tried to) the song.

    I do not remember exact details, never tried it and I do not know if it still exist.

    Maybe you should stop rocking back and forth, get of the park and go and apologise to families who were victims of your wedgies.😀

    ps. If someone remembers more details or if I have imagined that service, please correct me.

  7. MrGrim Says:

    This would take all of 30 minutes to code with libmusicbrainz. Use alsa to record for 10 seconds, libmusicbrainz to generate finger print and submit, spit out what musicbrainz.com says the song is. Piece o’ cake.

    Doesn’t seem as impressive then, though, does it?


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