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SoundHound's real-time lyrics turn iPad into virtual karaoke machine

July 21, 2011 |  3:20 pm

SoundHound Logo SoundHound, the app that "names that tune," has added lyrics that scroll in time with the song being played, turning it into a virtual karaoke machine. 

SoundHound, based in San Jose, Calif., has licensed the lyrics from Gracenote and is working to add them to its library of recognized songs. Currently, the app has the lyrics for about 500,000 songs, but projects to double that figure by the end of the year.

The company, which aspires to be the Google of songs, has two versions of its app for Apple Inc.'s iPad tablet. The free version has advertising, whereas the paid "Infinity" version costs $6.99 and is ad-free. Apple in January has said that SoundHound was the most downloaded app for its iPad tablet. (It's app is also available for Microsoft Windows Mobile, Android and Symbian phones.)

SoundHound recognizes millions of songs within a few seconds of it being played -- very much like a competing app, Shazam. Aaron Master, the head of SoundHound's user experience, says his company's technology requires snippets of four seconds or less to identify a song.

Can't name the song but hear it in your head? SoundHound can also recognize songs that are hummed -- a nice parlor trick to show off at the next cocktail party.

-- Alex Pham

Twitter/ @AlexPham