Version Reviewed: 1.0 (iPhone OS 3.0 Tested)
Reviewed on: iPhone 3GS
Graphics / Sound [rating:2/5]
iPhone Integration [rating:3/5]
User Interface [rating:2.5/5]
Re-use / Replay Value [rating:2.5/5]
If there's one thing we like to have on our phones, it's the ability to point and tag a track. It's this ability which proved very popular among most and saw the launch of start-ups like that of Midomi.
In August, music tagging network Shazam, popular for their worldwide premium mobile-based tagging service, launched Shazam for iPhone. A free, bare-bones application which listened to a 30 second clip of any track you wished to play to it, sent it to Shazam for tagging, and then came back to you letting you what song it was that you were currently listening to, which artist it was by and other track-related information.
It started off a good respectable app, after all the app was free compared to the company's £1.50 per minute phone-based '2580' service, we were getting unlimited tagging of songs, and best of all it was completely ad-free. Gradually though, with each sequential update to the app, it was clear Shazam had other plans. Plans which would eventually involve the introduction of a premium service, directed solely at the iPhone and iPod touch (with mic input). The first tell-tale sign came as the company (without announcement) added Google adverts to the app. Sure, people were a tad taken back by it at first, but in time we said - it's Free, and the developers need a return - that was fine. The stab in the back came with the introduction of a second update to the app which took away unlimited tagging and instead limited tagging to just 5 songs .. a month.
Cue, Shazam Encore. Launched just last week, the app is a premium version of the original music tagging service and although it offers a few other additions for your $4.99, it also has a dirty secret. Would you believe it, but - it still has ads. Yep, even though Shazam willingly took my £2.99, they still want to leach off my innocent tapping mistakes (well, I wouldn't click on an ad on purpose, would I?). I'm so livid about this, I like many others want my money back. I don't expect to pay to see ads. Am I the only one in thinking this?
It's not all bad though. Shazam Encore's saving grace comes in a new feature to the software which allows tagging while your on the road. Coined 'Drive and Tag', now when you dock your device in your car kit Shazam will enter 'Car Mode'. The idea being you can tag what song(s) are playing on your car stereo, hands free. You'll also find that the app will (just like Genius) give you recommendations based on your previous tags. As well as this, you'll probably be glad to know the ability to share your tags with the world either via both tweet or facebook status updates also made it into the premium version. The last feature I was a little curious on, and after trying it I have to admit it worked pretty much flawlessly, and this is the ability to 'Map' your tags. In Shazam Encore, your tags history is now recorded on a Map, meaning you can see where and when you tagged that song or track. Something I found pretty nifty!
Overall, I'm highly disappointed in this new version. Yes it has some new quirky features, but the fact this is a premium application, and it still has ads is (in my opinion) unacceptable and cannot be overlooked. Imagine if every developer decided to take Shazam's way of thinking forward? It's like they said to themselves; "Because we're not asking for a monthly subscription, ads are ok" - Well, er .. they're not. Sort this out Shazam. Seriously. Or I might just find myself moving to Midomi .. for good.