Google Assistant on mobile is now capable of identifying songs playing in the background. Google has yet to announce the update officially but Google Assistant is now showing support for the feature on some devices, following widespread reports emerging last month suggesting the feature was on its way. It is already confirmed as working on the first and second-generation Pixel (and XL) phones, and seems to be active on a number of non-Pixel phones as well, such as the Essential Phone.
The way the feature works is fairly straightforward. When a song is playing in the background, the user just needs to launch Google Assistant at which point the first suggestive action shown at the bottom of Assistant's view will be “What’s this song?” Clicking on the suggestion will tell Assistant to actively start listening and to identify the song. Once identified, the name of the song, the artist, and any other related info (including where you can buy/stream) the song from will be shown. With this being Google Assistant, users can also just make use of a voice command to initiate the music identification feature, such as “OK Google, what’s this song?”
When it comes to the Pixel 2 and 2 XL in particular, these are smartphones which don't necessarily need Google Assistant to take advantage of this sort of functionality. As when Google first announced the next-generation Pixel phones it also showcased a new ‘Now Playing’ feature which allows Pixel 2 and 2 XL owners to gain track information without having to do very much at all. This feature works in the background and simply displays track name and artist information to the user. One of the big selling points with the Pixel implementation is that it does all this in the background and can even show the track details on the lock screen when the device is not actively in use. However, this is a feature that is not live out of the box and does require manual activation by the Pixel 2/XL owner. To activate Now Playing, head to the settings menu, then to 'Sound,' then to 'Advanced,' then to 'Now Playing and finally toggle on the 'Show on lock screen' option. From then on the feature will be live and run in the background. For owners of non-Pixel 2 devices, it might be worth checking your version of Google Assistant now.