This free app brings Pixels’ Now Playing passive music recognition to your phone

Prop up your playlists with this handy little app, now with a no-root option!

Shazam and SoundHound are useful tools when you’re out on the town and want to know what’s on other peoples’ soundtracks so that you can take those songs and, perhaps, boost your own playlists. Pixel phone owners do have it pretty good, though, because Now Playing makes that ability passive. If you’re jealous, we’ve got a homebrew app that’s come a long way for you to download and try out.

Ambient Music Mod comes from the hands of Kieron Quinn, professional developer and friend of Android Police, and it lets users detect and identify songs with their phones on a passive basis. The processes of how the recording and matching get done are more or less the same as Now Playing. However, as Quinn explains in his Medium post, he decided to bypass ambient music detection which would require a lot of finagling to achieve and instead go with a model that uses a series of triggers such as the device’s display turning on and programmed record events and lengths. It’s a bit more arbitrary in fashion, but the method seems to work about as well: Now Playing was able to identify every song played during five hours of radio while AMM correctly figured out all but one.


It’s only fair that we mention that Esper technical editor Mishaal Rahman had a hand in helping Quinn out with this project.

With the version 2.0 release last week, Quinn removed the need for root access entirely for Android 12 and later devices in order to have the app work — the package comprises of the Ambient Music Mod app itself and a stripped-down, standalone version of the Android System Intelligence which handles the Now Playing service. Other features built in include notification album art, a historical log of recognized songs, a dedicated mode to allow for manually-triggered recognition attempts, and the ability to tweak record timings.

You can take Ambient Music Mod for a spin by downloading and installing the latest version of the app from Quinn’s GitHub repository.

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