A couple of months ago, my wife discovered AT&T’s MusicID service. Naturally, being a music buff, I had to try it out for myself. I was amazed at how well it worked, but after finding out that AT&T wanted to charge me 99¢ for each use or $3.99 a month for the service, I wasn’t so impressed anymore. They already get enough of my money each month.

     Enter Shazam from Shazam Entertainment Ltd.. This nifty little app is even more impressive than AT&T’s expensive service, and best of all, it’s free! Shazam’s ability to identify music is truly impressive.

     Once the song had been identified, Shazam would show the song title, artist, record label, album artwork, and date/time the song was tagged. If available, the app will also display links to purchase the song in iTunes, YouTube videos, lyrics, album reviews, artist bios, artist discographies, and more.

     I’ve tried all sorts of things to fool the software into misidentifying a song. Cover tunes and even obscure songs that have been out of print for decades doesn’t even phase it. The only thing I’ve found that it has difficulty with is classical music, which is completely understandable since you have hundreds of versions of many classical tunes that all sound pretty much the same.

     Shazam also handles background noise very well. I’ve tested it on songs playing in the background on television shows, in crowded restaurants, and even with me talking close to the phone while it samples the music. Rarely have I seen anything that keeps it from working.

     My only real complaint with Shazam is that it includes a couple of features that make it a little cumbersome for those looking to use it purely for music identification, primarily the developer’s decision to allow the app to “create and share music moments and memories”. These features allow you to “tag” music, take a photo with your iPhone’s camera and attach it to the tagged song. Even if you don’t attach a photo, the app saves a list of your tagged songs that appears in the main interface of the app. This feature is cute for those who like to treasure their memories with friends, but for those who just want to know what song is playing, it means you have to manually delete the songs from the list one by one.

     Even with the cumbersome interface, this app has earned a permanent spot on my iPhone, and it gets used almost daily.