My Vote for Most Amazing iPhone App: Midomi

The iPhone app universe is getting larger and larger everyday, but much like the blogosphere, tumblrsphere, and twittersphere, it’s mostly crap. Maybe crap is too strong a word. Perhaps “marginally interesting” is a better euphemism. There are thousands of unit convertors, restaurant recommenders, sports scoreboards, and other mind-numbingly obvious utilities that are simply mobile versions of things we’ve had on our desktops for over 10 years.

But then, there are the small handful of special apps that make you intimately aware of the transformative potential of mobile devices. There are probably less than 10 of them. As for as Apple endorsed apps, it’s maybe Google Maps (with GPS) and Remote. That’s about it. Currently, I have 22 third-party apps installed (most of which I rarely use) and only one of them is something I would describe as amazing: Midomi.

For those who haven’t downloaded Midomi yet, it’s a little app that let’s you identify songs in one of five ways:

  • Holding the phone up while music is playing ambiently somewhere, like in a bar (Amazing)
  • Singing into the phone (Even more amazing)
  • Humming into the phone (Mind-numbingly amazing)
  • Speaking into the phone (Less amazing)
  • Typing into the phone (Not amazing at all)

I remember when a similar app called Shazam came out, and I tried using it to identify some songs on the radio and it didn’t seem to have too many songs in its database, but now, both Shazam and Midomi seem to have every song on earth cataloged. Being able to instantly identify (and purchase) songs wirelessly whenever and wherever you hear them is — for my money — the most impressive use of the iPhone I’ve seen. It’s simply magic.

But that’s only the beginning…

Where it really starts to get fun is the singing and humming. I’m convinced Midomi is the gateway drug to karaoke. I hate karaoke. I hate doing it myself and I hate watching others do it, unless they are awesome (i.e. fewer than 10% of people) and sing awesome songs (i.e. not Blondie or Gloria Gaynor). All the hate aside, I found myself singing and humming songs into my iPhone for over an hour last night, marveling at how it could magically decipher my awful tone-deaf chirping. Yes there was a little bit of alcohol involved. Don’t judge.

But the fun doesn’t end there! As soon as you belt out “and she’s buying a Stairway to Heaven”, Midomi doesn’t just identify it… it presents you with the same segment of the song, as sung by other anonymous Midomi’ers, so you can listen to how other people recorded it. The results are beyond entertaining.

As you can imagine, this is a diversion best performed outside the earshot of other human beings, and after a few drinks, which makes it a perfect activity for introverted alcoholics. And yet, at the same time, I could see it being turned into an entertaining party game: first person to sing or hum into the phone and not have their song recognized loses.

Anyway, if you haven’t downloaded Midomi yet, I highly recommend it. Are there any other apps out there that you consider truly amazing?

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21 Responses:

  1. I am a huge fan of Shazam. When I first downloaded, I didn’t expect to actually use it, but I heard the most amazing song ever on the radio, ended up using Shazam to identify it, and went home and bought it.

    I tried Midomi out, but every time I sang into it, it would be give me strange shrieking sounds as its response. Then when anyone else would try, it would work perfectly. I chose Shazam to be the one that stayed on my phone.

    I didn’t realize it would play the exact same part of the song though. Guess I’m going to have to download and try it out again.

  2. I seem to have had the inverse experience with Midomi and Shazam. I could never get Midomi to ID songs, but have had nothing but good luck with Shazam. That being said, you can’t have nearly the fun you did with Midomi as Shazam needs the actual recording, not the live/hummed/drunkenly sung versions. I may have to give Midomi another shot. Thanks!

  3. Chris says:

    midomi sounds pretty cool. i also like shazam, for the same reason Sam mentioned. used it recently to identify the opening theme song on HBO’s True Blood, and it worked like a charm. very cool.

    another app i’ve enjoyed is cliqcliq Colors. take a picture and it automatically grabs the most predominant colors from the photo taken. you can then save the palette and email it in photoshop and illustrator formats. pretty fun for grabbing design inspiration on the go.


  4. Dave F says:

    I use them all the time. Especially during films as I hate having to scan the credits for soundtrack info. Brilliant.

  5. Jason says:

    One app that I recently got addicted to is Galcon. I know it’s a game, but it’s just right for those times when you don’t want to get involved with something that takes forever to play. I think the longest “game” that I played on Galcon took about 1 minute and maybe 20 seconds. Of course that was on some of the lower levels of the game. I’m slowly working my way up the rankings to the harder levels. If you’re not sure about it, download the free Galcon Lite version and give it a try. The description is spot-on, it’s like risk, but for space.
    Oh, and to stay on subject, I have Shazam and love it. I’ve used it to settle a bunch of arguements about songs. I’m definitely going to give Midomi a try too. It sounds really neat. Thanks for the suggestion.

  6. Daniel says:

    Thanks for the tip Mike!

    That is indeed the most impressive 3rd party iPhone application I’ve. (‘I am Rich’, of course, being a close number two…)

    It doesn’t, however, really rely on any iPhone-specific technology. It is available for Symbian – and with Nokia’s praised microphones, Midomi might even have an advantage on the latter platform.

  7. Mykola says:

    Holy crap, we just tested it out. It’s like a full-fledged Karaoke toy – it lets you have fans and stuff, and the top results are always like really really good.

    Anyone else find that Chili Peppers’ “Other Side” seems to be in the top hits no matter what you sing/hum? ;)

  8. I agree with you Mike. And the Apple commercials always piss me off because I am like Midomi was there before Shazam (I think) – either way – I used Midomi before I knew about Shazam.

  9. Aaron Boswell says:

    I have used Shazam and like it. I will have to download Midomi and try it out.

    My MUST HAVE app for the iPhone has turned out to be Stanza. I love to read, usually read at night and have always bugged mt wife with a light on after she wanted to go to sleep. With stanza, I can convert books from tons of formats and read them on my device. Stanza also has a reverse colors function so when I turn down the brightness, the white text on black is just bright enough and doesn’t strain my eyes. I use it every day and don’t know what I am going to do when I can’t find a book in digital format and actually have to go back to paper.

  10. I love Fieldrunners and Ocarina. My usage patterns for iPhone apps hover around Twitterific, Facebook, and copies of Sherlock Holmes novels, but I use those two for fun, mostly Fieldrunners ( a tower strategy game) which is like crack especially since the last update which added sound and a new map.

  11. Maybe I’m unusual, but I use a ton of 3rd-party apps. I have 78 total apps installed, but my top finds are:

    Facebook and Tweetie, for staying in touch
    Google and Wikipanion for searching
    Shozu for uploading to Flickr, and Photoswap for killing time,
    Bix, Frenzic and Collapse for games

    I’m liking Brightkite, but I don’t know how much I’ll use it, and the Amazon app is killer during the holiday season when I can use it to track shipments on the go.

  12. Words that shall never be mentioned henceforth: tumblrsphere.

  13. Jim Ray says:

    So, does this mean you’re gonna man up and join us one night at the Boxcar? Instead of getting shown up by your girlfriend like last time? OHYESIWENTTHERE.

    (Editor’s Note: Hells to the hells to the no!)

  14. Brade says:

    Hmmm, I tried singing “New Damage” by Soundgarden–admittedly a tough task, but no results. Then I tried twice the “say it” feature and said “New Damage by Soundgarden” — it was not in the results. This is disheartening because the song I’m really trying to find after all these years is some grunge tune that sounds like it could have been Soundgarden. Of course the results for my five singing attempts for that one were not successful, although the song “My December” by Linkin Park was listed, and it does have a very similar melody. But the song I’m looking for was on the radio in the early to mid 90′s. I REALLY WANT TO FIND IT!!!

  15. Nic says:

    PosiMotion have made original use of the accelerometer to create a digital spirit level:

  16. Calvin says:

    I just farted into my iPhone and Midomi spat out “Heart of Stone” by Cher. Go figure.

  17. Ali Reid says:

    I use pocket guitar. Which is quite amazing. Playing a C7 chord requires 4 fingers on the left hand and a one finger strum with the right hand. this app makes me very impressed with the multi-touch screen. but sometimes i wish my iphone were 4 times as long.

    there is a band called iBand on Youtube that amused me quite a lot. as a musician, you really really could jam while on a bus or in a cafe, using iphones.

    shazam is, i reckon, older. It was a phone service in the UK, and I was holding it up to ghetto blasters back in 2003.

    don’t fart on your iphone!

  18. Jeff Hartman says:


    Best. Comment. Ever.

  19. This sounds like a lot of fun… I just might have to break my contract with Verizon.

  20. Collin says:

    Uh huh, sure Mike! I bet you have a secret love of karaoke that is overpowered by your fear of sounding like a retarded monkey singing out of it’s nose. No?

    Come on, what is your secret account name on

  21. appmogul says:

    If you liked the last midomi, then the new upgrade Midomi Ultra will rock your world. Whatever Sound2Sound Search Science is, it’s a blazer. The music ID can be 5-10 seconds versus 15+ for shaazam. UI is a big leap. Waddya think?

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