If you’re a fan of being able to ask your phone what song is playing, you’ll be happy to know that Google is preparing to roll out some improvements to Sound Search.
The genesis of these improvements lies with Now Playing. The software, which Google brought to the Pixel 2 in 2017, was meant to allow Google to create an always-on music recognizer that could be used even without an internet connection. Over the past year, Google has learned that Now Playing not only did its job, but actually did it better than the server-side Sound Search. In order to improve Sound Search, Google has taken the technology that underlies Now Playing and incorporated it into Sound Search.
If you’re trying to decide whether to use Now Playing or Sound Search, Google says that the new-and-improved Sound Search is both faster and more accurate than Now Playing. The new server-side database contains 1,000 times as many songs as Now Playing.
Of course, that larger database does present a few new challenges. The biggest challenge is the number of false matches that Sound Search could generate due to the much larger directory. In order to solve this issue, Google relies on improved machine learning algorithms to quickly sort through its database until it finds the correct song.
On the technical side of things, Google said that it quadrupled the number of neural networks involved, and increased the size of each embedding from 96 to 128. The company also doubled the density of each of those embeddings. The result of these changes is that Google’s neural networks are able to work harder to find and identify songs.
Another way that Google is dealing with the issue of false matches is by adjusting the criteria for songs based on their popularity. More popular songs have a lower matching threshold than less popular ones. This helps to ensure that Sound Search is more accurate when determining the song you’re trying to find. This also means that Google will be able to continue to add more obscure songs to the database without compromising the accuracy of Sound Search.
Despite these improvements, Google has acknowledged there are still some issues with Sound Search. Very quiet music or noisy environments can pose a problem for Sound Search, and there is room for improvement in the system’s speed.