Why the iPhone Rules the World – Shazam and SnapTell

I just picked up two new free applications at the iTunes store today and both of them are fantastic beyond belief!

The first is SnapTell Explorer, a program that will, no doubt, get iPhones banned from bookstores inside of 6 weeks. Just use the iPhone to snap a picture of a book, CD, DVD or video game and the image is transferred to SnapTell, identified and links to Amazon.com, Barnes & Noble, Wikipedia, Google and other sources are sent back to you. Perfect for when you don’t want to pay $39 for a computer book you can buy for $26 at amazon.com.

I tested this program on about 25 technical books, 5 to 10 old paperbacks, several DVDs and at least 2 video games (WII) and had about a 95% success rate. (And I have some pretty obscure stuff.) This is the application I’ve been dreaming about since the first cameraphone was invented.

Second, not quite as useful to me, but even cooler, is Shazam.

Like SnapTell this is a program to identify and purchase things. Instead of the camera it uses the microphone to record 12 seconds of audio and then identifies the song for you. I’ve been putting this one to the test since I got home and it’s also had an impressive hit rate. It’s only missed one “popular” music genre song – something a little obscure by Herb Alpert. It’s also done a darned fine job identifying music only tracks from various James Bond soundtracks.

Here’s a little story I think I forgot to blog: I watch international cricket and, when possible, English county cricket. In English cricket, there is a song they play when a Six Boundary is hit, it’s an instrumental piece, a rather jazzy trumpet or horn segment. I love that song, I also had no clue what it was. Google searches were to no avail. I put two separate friends who had both resided in England during the 80’s trying to help me identify it.

After a very long afternoon one day, one of them an I spent hours looking at videos, listening to various audio clips, etc until we finally identified this song: Tom Hark, by the Piranhas. In the US, it’s an obscure 80’s song that really never got play here. After identifying it, I was finally able to get the song.

Shazam identified it in 12 seconds.

That’s impressive indeed