Imagine pointing your phone at an advert for a music album and instantly being able to hear tracks on your phone, or maybe be greeted by the cover star of your favourite magazine. Shazam from today will offer its users just that and more with a new image recognition feature called Shazam Visual.

The new feature, already installed via an app update last week, works just like QR codes, but without the unsightly looking graphic.

Users will be able to press the new camera icon within the app and using their phone's camera to scan images that feature a Shazam camera logo.

The move means that all printed media now has the potential to be interactive in the future. It's essentially Shazam's version of Zappar.

"Point the app towards the picture and it will recognise it with a result depending on the what the brand wants," Cait O’Riordan, VP of Product for Music & Platforms at Shazam explained to Pocket-lint. "In effect it is our version of a QR code, but it will work with straight images."


The QR code, which has been around for some time has been received with mixed feelings. Some like Quikkly have tried to adapt them, while more recently companies like Chinese internet giant Alibaba has started used them to stop counterfeiting. However, all agree they aren't the prettiest thing to put on something:

"QR codes haven't worked as some brands expected," O’Riordan added.

The idea with Shazam's approach is that users see the new Shazam logo on a page, a poster or a product and then instantly know to get their phone out and "Shazam it" in the same way over 20 million users do with music every day.

Already popular with TV advertisers in the US and the UK, the company has partnered with around 20 companies from Evian to Target to Levi's, to make uninteractive things interactive.

"It works really well when the message is simple and clear," explained O'Riordan. "An exclusive movie trailer or coupon for example."

One of the companies embracing the new technology is Disney. The studio is using the new feature to help promote its latest movie Tomorrowland with a fully immersive experience that launches once people have pressed the button on the app.

"The brands we are talking to want to do similar things [to Disney]," says O'Riordan. "In the fullness of time it will be a self service platform, but at the moment its only for certain brands."

Partners will be launching "Shazam-able" ready pictures from today. And you can try out the feature on some of the images we've included in our gallery above.