Shazam Founder Avery Wang on Inspiration, Insights and Mobile Trends
You know someone’s legit when their professional responsibilities include “innovation.” Meet Avery Wang, Founder and Chief Scientist at Shazam. Shazam is still known as the “Name That Tune” app that identifies songs you can’t remember the name of on the radio, but it’s come a long way since its inception in 2002. Such a long way that in April, UK-based Shazam received the Queen’s Award for Enterprise in Innovation. No big deal…
We met up with Wang to talk about Shazam’s inspiration for its frequent (and awesome) updates across its three app versions (Free, Encore and RED), as well as its advertisement- and live TV-tagging service, Shazam for TV™. Wang shares insight into the company’s plans for future development in the second-screen arena and offers solid advice for app developers (or anyone looking to produce successful products).
- It seems like every time we turn around, Shazam releases another update! How do you come up with new ideas for Shazam?
Many of the ideas we had conceived years ago but have only recently put them into play, as mobile platforms have become more amenable in recent years due to the explosion of the smartphone market.
As for new ideas, they are big and small: sometimes a tweak in the user interface, sometimes a new way of dramatically speeding things up. Our team is constantly brainstorming and seeking solutions and opportunities.
We do listen to our fans and do our best to give them the most delightful experience.
- What is your favorite Shazam feature (across Shazam Free, Encore and RED) and why?
It’s hard to pick. The core feature that everyone knows about is the recognition algorithm, and that’s really our bedrock. On top of that, I really like the synchronized lyrics (LyricPlay™)—that one was really fun. I also am quite proud of our newest one-second tagging experience.
- Can you share any insights into new capabilities and updates we can expect to see from Shazam in the future?
One general push we have is in the area of being able to tag live media such as American Idol, the Grammys and the Super Bowl, as we have demonstrated with our Shazam for TV service. It is still early days, but we see a big opportunity in the second-screen space. Certainly social networking will become a bigger part of our user experience, too.
- What do you think is the biggest trend in app development currently, and how is Shazam capitalizing on that trend?
It’s hard to say since there are so many innovations occurring in the mobile space. Location-based services have exploded relatively recently. Everyone is doing Facebook integration for social networking. “Second screen” is a new buzzword in some circles, and we’re a declared participant in that arena.
- Besides Shazam, what’s another one of your favorite apps and why?
Again, hard to choose among many contenders. I was very impressed with The Night Sky app by iCandi. The key is in providing a delightful user experience. Even though there are other apps in that space (pun alert), having a really polished UX (user-experience design) makes the difference.
What is the best advice you’ve received as an app developer?
I was told, “Given a choice between getting it out early and getting it right, get it right. Otherwise you will be killed.” That’s a variation on the old saying, “You only have one chance to make a first impression.”
Apps I Love
Eating Healthy is a Snap with Dr. Oz’s App Pick
Photo credit: Getty Images
Dr. Mehmet Oz, famous cardiac surgeon and star of TV’s The Dr. Oz Show, spends much of his time giving nutritional guidance to his show’s viewers and patients. But we bet he never thought advice could get as simple as “take a picture of your food.”
Dr. Oz told USA TODAY that he likes the Meal Snap app. Just use your smartphone to take a photo of your food in front of you, and the app calculates how many calories you’re consuming. Bam—food recording is done.
Of course, the app is not always 100 percent accurate, but we still think the simple act of recording our food helps us be more conscious of what we’re eating. You can share your meals on Twitter, Facebook and foursquare if you want some extra motivation, and you can even view your eating patterns over time.