When most companies offer free versions of premium apps, it's not unusual to see a substantial portion of the feature set fly out the door. Thankfully that's not the case with music-finding app SoundHound. The company, which has changed names and pricing structures throughout the course of its modest lifetime, has wisely left the bulk of its feature set intact while limiting the number of times per month you can access its core feature, identifying (or "tagging") and app.
Unlike competitors that require you to hold the app close to the source of recorded music before it can ID your song title, lyrics, and artist information, SoundHound works even when you sing, hum, speak, or type a request into the stylish interface. Though the app is now faster than before--returning results in as few as 4 seconds--ambient noise may still interfere with accurate results, and typing usually prevailed in the rare case that singing into the speaker or holding the iPhone up to a music source failed.
There are music videos to watch, when available from YouTube, and song lyrics, either delivered right to you, or in the form of an in-app Google search. Trend charts show you how popular a song is vis a vis the publisher's online and mobile network, and you can see which songs other users have identified. Cleverly, SoundHound can also hook into your iPhone's iPod library and produce the same info and lyrics for songs you already own.
Take heed that neither version of SoundHound downloads the song itself, though the app can help you buy music through iTunes. The iPad version looks even better, keeping the song-finding features on the left while surfacing videos, titles, and other related information in the main panel on the right.
SoundHound (the company) also offers a premium version of the app for $4.99 that strips out the banner ads and five-song-a-month limit found in the free version. But don't worry if you start with the freebie and change your mind later; in-app purchasing gives you two ways to upgrade.