It’s been a busy day for me here, as I’m just digging in with the Google Pixel 2. We held a live stream earlier; it was an epic failure. I made a slightly-less-crappy unboxing video; I’ve included above, in cased you missed it. Now, it’s time to answer the first question I had when turning on my new Pixel 2.

How do you enable the Pixel 2’s “Now Playing” feature?

Actually, I guess I should back up just a smidge and explain “Now Playing“, rather than assuming that you’re already familiar.

If you didn’t already know, the Pixel 2 has an awesome new feature that makes allows the phone to recognize music it hears playing. Then, the song title and artist are shown front and center on your screen, both in the always-on display and on the lock screen.

Interestingly enough, the Pixel 2 does this without the need for an Internet connection, thanks to advanced machine learning. And so far, it seems to do a pretty good job at it.

But, as a head up, the “Now Playing” feature isn’t on by default; you actually have to enable it before it works. It’s worth mentioning that you may or may not see the option during your initial device setup. I didn’t, but then shortly after I saw a notification in my shader that prompted me to complete set-up, which I thought I had already done. The option was there, as well.

In case you missed the option to turn it on all together…

Here’s how to turn on “Now Playing”:

Pixel 2 "Now Playing"

  1. Make sure you have a Pixel 2. “Now Playing” is only available on the second generation models for now. If it will come to the original Pixels via software updates is yet to be seen.
  2. On your Pixel 2, head into Settings -> Sound -> Advanced.
  3. Scroll to the bottom and click Now Playing.
  4. Enable Show on lock screen.
  5. (Optional) Enable Also show notifications.

It’s worth noting here, this doesn’t seem to work with songs playing on Chromecast devices. I guess it makes sense, in some ways. You’re casting the song, so you should already know what it is. Still, though. It would be nice to be able to look at the phone to ID a song playing on Chromecast, say from a Google Play Music radio station, rather than having to look at the TV.

Not a big deal, just me being picky.

I also have to point out that the feature is somewhat hit or miss. For example, it doesn’t identify songs from the new Wu-Tang Clan album, but it handles older songs a bit better. It knew Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit” and Stone Sour’s “30/30-150”. It also takes a few seconds to display, when it works, so be patient.

I can only assume that “Now Playing” will improve as time passes. Here’s to hoping that’s the case.