Now Playing’s arguably the Pixel 2′s coolest feature, and we now know more about how it works.
Display controversies aside, Google’s Pixel 2 is one heck of a phone. The camera’s phenomenal, performance is top-notch, and the software experience is the best you’ll find on any Android phone right now. Software has always been the Pixel (and Nexus) line’s strongest aspect, and with the Pixel 2, the highlight is undoubtedly Now Playing.
Now Playing is the feature on the Pixel 2 that automatically identifies songs that are playing around you in the background, and along with being a neat party trick, there’s also some impressive tech behind it. VentureBeat recently talked with a spokesperson from Google to learn just how NowPlaying actually works, and this is what we learned.
It’s a local feature based on Google Play Music
With song-identifying services like Shazam, audio tracks are matched up with a library of tunes found in the cloud. This allows Shazam to ID over 11 million different songs, but and while this is how the majority of these services work, Google does something a bit different with Now Playing.
Now Playing won’t use more than 500Mb of space.
Now Playing connects to Play Music’s list of top/most popular songs, and each week, more current songs are added to replace older/less popular ones. It was previously reported that Now Playing can already identify tens of thousands of different tracks, and this point still holds true. Now Playing songs are updated each week, and the collection of songs that Now Playing pulls from is different based on which country your Pixel 2 was sold in.
Since Now Playing is locally based, it does take up storage space. Google says that it’ll never use more than 500Mb, and if you don’t turn the feature on, it won’t use any space at all.
Songs aren’t being identified 24/7
When you’re using Shazam, you have to open the app and tap a button to start identifying a song. Now Playing obviously doesn’t require you to do this since it runs automatically in the background, but the service isn’t constantly listening for songs.
Now Playing listens for any tunes playing every 60 seconds. As such, if Now Playing doesn’t hear a song after 60 seconds have passed, nothing will pop up. This also explains why you can still see a song on your lock screen even after the song has stopped playing.
Although this means that Now Playing won’t always pick up songs instantaneously, it was designed this way to help conserve battery life. If you ask us, it’s a really strong compromise.
Now Playing will remain as an exclusive to the Pixel 2
At this time, Google has no plans for bringing Now Playing over to any other devices. Yep, that means no Now Playing for last year’s Pixels.
Now Playing supposedly requires both hardware and software tweaks in order to work, and while the Google spokesperson didn’t dive into exact details as to what’s required on these fronts, don’t hold your breath for it coming to other Android phones in the near future.
The exclusive nature of Now Playing is undoubtedly a bummer, but it’s also not all that surprising. This is the first time we’ve seen any feature along these lines on an Android handset, and Google’s want/need to keep it exclusive to the Pixel 2 just makes sense.
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