You can now get Google Pixel’s music recognition feature on other Android phones — here’s how

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Introduced on the Google Pixel 2 and present right up to the current Pixel 5, Google’s Now Playing feature is a handy tool for identifying songs you hear while out and about and might want to listen to later. The only problem is that it’s always been a Pixel-exclusive feature — until now.

As spotted by XDA Developers, GitHub user Kieron Quinn has ported Now Playing to Android in general. Installing the Ambient Music Mod is a little more tricky than simply downloading an app, but it does promise the same song-identifying functionality as Now Playing. And it even uses Google’s song database.

Furthermore, it improves on the original Now Playing feature by working entirely on the device; with the real thing you’d need your Pixel phone to be connected to Wi-Fi before it can put a name to songs, but once installed the Ambient Music Mod handles the entire process locally. It’s also free and open-source.

Again, though, getting the mod up and running takes some effort. It uses both the Xposed and Magisk framework hubs, so you’ll need to install both of these on your phone first. You’ll then need to download the APK from the Ambient Music Mod recent releases page and check, within the app, that your phone is compatible.

This could be another tripping-up point: non-Pixel phones like the OnePlus 7T Pro are confirmed to work, but not every Android handset will be. You’ll therefore need to navigate to the mod app’s Installer tab to check if yours will work before you build the module using the “Build Installer” option.

After that, there’s still the matter of installing a Magisk module using the Magisk app, and doing the same with Xposed. All going well, however, means that after a reboot you should get a full recreation of Now Playing on your phone, so if you have the Ambient Music Mod enabled then the titles and artists of songs playing within microphone-shot will appear on your lock screen.

It’s got a relatively techy process, then, though the Ambient Music Mod does demonstrate the benefit of keeping Android open-source even if closed-off software like iOS 14.5 offers faster performance.

James Archer

James is currently Hardware Editor at Rock Paper Shotgun, but before that was Audio Editor at Tom’s Guide, where he covered headphones, speakers, soundbars and anything else that intentionally makes noise. A PC enthusiast, he also wrote computing and gaming news for TG, usually relating to how hard it is to find graphics card stock.