Facebook is listening (literally!) with new audio feature
Call it the Shazam-ification of Facebook: The social network is rolling out a new audio feature that uses your smartphone’s mic to tell what you’re listening to. What for? To share it with the world, of course.
Unlike Shazam, which is used mostly to recognize unfamiliar tunes and tell us what they are, Facebook’s audio recognition tool figures out songs, TV shows, and movies so that you can tell other people about your great taste. Obviously, you already know what you’re listening to.
“If you want to share that you’re listening to your favorite Beyoncé track or watching the season premiere of Game of Thrones, you can do it quickly and easily, without typing,” Facebook product manager Aryek Selekman said in a Wednesday blog post announcing the new feature.
Personally, I don’t find typing to be that arduous or time-consuming, but plenty of people love letting Facebook do the work of populating a status. Selekman said some 5 billion status updates in the last year have included feelings and activities that Facebook now offers as alternatives or additions to your own thoughts.
Facebook doesn’t turn up any media when you tag your status with a TV show or movie, but when you post a song, your friends can listen to a 30-second preview of it—and then judge you immediately.
Like other features the network has introduced recently, such as Nearby Friends, the audio feature is entirely optional. When you open the app on iOS or Android devices in the coming weeks—Facebook didn’t specify exactly when—the network will ask if you want to use your microphone to recognize what you’re listening to and tag your status automatically. You can opt out or turn it on. Then, when Facebook adds the tag to your status, you can choose to delete it before posting. You can turn off the feature at any time by tapping the audio icon at the top right of your status update. Selekman said the network won’t store anything it hears—but the idea of Facebook being able to hear what you say is a little off-putting, to say the least.
I don’t have the new feature yet, so I’m not sure how sensitive it is. Can Facebook pick up songs when you’re having a loud conversation? Is the recognition software accurate? We’ll go hands-on when the update rolls out to see if audio tags are worth opting into.