This App Can Replicate Pixel Devices’ Now Playing Feature on Your Android Smartphone

BY Chandraveer Mathur

Published 27 Jun 2022

Ambient Music Mod Logo

Every new Android update brings several new features to the community, but some are exclusive to Pixel phones. One such exclusive feature, called Now Playing, left us burning up in envy. Thanks to an indie app developer, things have changed for the better.

What Is Now Playing?

In case you aren’t aware, Now Playing is a passive music identification and detection system introduced with the Pixel 2 in 2018. It has been a staple of Pixel devices ever since, just like the Google Camera app. It works just like Shazam and SoundHound, but the difference is you don’t have to open an app to identify the music that’s playing. You don’t even need an internet connection. It all works passively.

Now Playing’s functionality is available for all Android devices, thanks to an app called Ambient Music Mod developed by a professional app developer Kieron Quinn. The app helps users detect and identify songs on their smartphones passively. Android Police reports that Quinn’s audio capture and detection systems are similar to Google’s Now Playing feature.

Pixel Now Playing

How It Works

In a blog post, Quinn explained that instead of a complete ambient detection system, the Ambient Music Mod app uses device activities as triggers and predefined audio recording lengths. So, the app can start listening, say, for 15 seconds when the screen turns on. Quinn said this implementation is less “finicky” than bypassing ambient music detection, which the first version of his app used.

Once the audio is recorded passively, identifying the song works just like how Google Assistant constantly processes passive audio to detect the “Hey Google” hotword. This “hotword” detection system is processed by a dedicated signal processor (DSP), which is present on most modern Android devices. Once the DSP detects that the ambient sounds include music, an eight-second recording is initiated and handed to the Android System Intelligence service, which compares the recording to a database of tracks.

Ambient Music Mod 1

Quinn explained that the database comprises 53,000 tracks (as of June 2022 in the USA). It is stored offline since it takes up just 250MB on your phone. According to tests run by the app developer, Now Playing correctly identified all 56 songs playing on a radio station over a five-hour stretch. In the same period, Ambient Music Mod faltered with just one piece but identified all the others correctly.

App Updates

Earlier, Ambient Music Mod required root access on devices running Android 12. The latest app update released last week eliminates this requirement, making the app far more accessible to Android users around the world.

Ambient Music Mod 2

The latest app package (open source) available on GitHub includes the Ambient Music Mod app as well as a barebones version of the Android System Intelligence app required for music detection. The app also logs all the songs it detected, displays album art, and sports a dedicated mode using which users can manually trigger recognition attempts. You can even dive into the app settings and tweak the recording timings.

Have you tried Ambient Music Mod on your Android device? Do you think Google should make Pixel-exclusive apps and software more widely available? Tell us why in the comments section below.

[Via Android Police]