Most people will agree that the software on Pixel smartphones shows what Google believes in Android shall be, and as such, the software is often well received by enthusiasts. Still, thanks to the dedicated modding community, you do not necessarily need to own a Pixel device to take advantage of its software features. The “Now Playing” feature, for example, has remained exclusive to the Pixel series, but developer Kieron Quinn, also known as Quinny899 on our forums, succeeded port it to other Android smartphones in the form of a hybrid Xposed-Magic module called Ambient Music Mod. Now Quinn has taken things a step further and revised the mod to make it a non-root solution.
Meet Ambient Music Mod v2
To do the ambient music recognition feature on the Pixel smartphones hardware diagnostics without root privilege was not an easy task, but Quinny899 achieved the feat with Shizuku. For the unconscious, Shizuku uses a unique service like gives third-party apps access to system-level APIs via Android Debug Bridge (ADB) interface. Since the release of v2, Ambient Music Mod can work without root access on devices running Android 12 or later.
Another major change is the removal of Xposed-related addictions. There is no need to install an Xposed distribution as EdXposed or LSPosed longer, as the mod now comes as a standalone app. Keep in mind that you can still select the root version of Ambient Music Mod on older versions of Android.
What are the features of Ambient Music Mod v2
Below you will find a summary of the features provided by Ambient Music Mod:
- Full support for now is played, based on the latest version from Pixel devices and the latest music databases
- Automatic recognition of Ambient Music, with settings to control how often the recognition is run – find the right balance between battery usage and convenience
- Now playing History and Favorites support
- Support for triggering recognitions manually, including a home screen widget
- On Demand recognition on supported devices, using the Google Assistant-supported song recognition engine that is not in the local database (must be triggered manually)
- Show now playing songs on the lock screen (availability service required)
- See the entire song list with recognizable songs and change the database location if your taste does not match the device’s location
At the time of writing, the developer has already made two hotfixes after the release of the v2 major. You can now select an alternative coding option and fine-tune the “gain” values to fix distortion and / or cracking problems.
How to download and install Ambient Music Mod v2
Just like the original version, Ambient Music Mod v2 is a free open source mod. You can find the latest version of APK on the project’s GitHub repo linked below.
To install the downloaded APK file, take a look at our guide to download Android app packages. After installation, Ambient Music Mod will request Shizuku access. Depending on the underlying Android version, you can continue with root mode or non-root mode. Then the app will download some additional components and prompt you to provide the necessary permissions – that’s all.
Compare Google Now Playing and Ambient Music Mod v2
Under the hood, Ambient Music Mod uses one modified version of a Google app called Android System Intelligence. The device recognition part is executed after searching the music database – just like Google Now Playing does. As a result, the performance of the Ambient Music Mod is in reality on a device that does not come from Google more or less similar to a Pixel smartphone – especially after setting the parameters. However, there are a handful of differences between the Pixel-exclusive feature and the mod.
Here’s a quick hands-on to show the differences between the official Google deployment and Quinny899’s mod. The test units are a running Google Pixel 4a Android 13 Beta 3.2 and an ancient Redmi 5 running an unofficial version of LineageOS 18.1 on top of Android 11.
On Pixel smartphones, you can access the “Now Playing” option below settings => Sound & vibration. However, Ambient Music Mod is a standalone app, so you can find its entry in the launcher’s application section. After pressing the icon, you can access Now played screen and additional options.
2. Recognize the surrounding music
Once the music database has been downloaded, you should be able to enable the option called “Identify songs being played nearby” for both. On a Google Pixel device, the songs played around you should be automatically identified and displayed on the lock screen.
Ambient Music Mod, on the other hand, lets you switch this option. If you do not want to disturb your lock screen, you can select the manual “Recognize” button to identify the music.
3. Now playing History and Music Search
The Now playing history the section is practically identical in both implementations. You can explore the history of famous songs, add them below Favorites list and possibly place a shortcut to the section to your home screen for quick access.
However, the manual search section is different. On a Pixel phone, you can simply enable the option called Show the search button on the lock screen and search for a song from your lock screen. This “On Demand” recognition mechanism may not work with Ambient Music Mod on all devices out of the box. To know more, please go through the explanation of the developer.
Because Google’s Now Playing module is an integral part of Pixel’s firmware, there is not much to tinker with. To generalize, Quinny899 had to add some custom parameters to the Ambient Music Mod code base.
You can adjust the music recognition period and buffer, force the identification routine to run on the small CPU cores, adjust the gain and much more. This is something that significantly improves compatibility. For example, I had to choose the alternative encoding (available since version 2.0.2) on Redmi 5, otherwise it could not detect the surrounding music due to distortion. The mod also allows you to back up your custom settings and restore them afterwards.
Now the game’s feature was never transferred to AOSP, so Kieron had to backtrack and go through a lot of challenges to make it available to non-Google devices. he detailed process in his blog. Read it if you are curious to know everything behind the scenes.
Go to the GitHub link for the code base and more information on how the mod works. You can also participate in the discussion, report a bug or request a new feature by writing in the forum thread linked below.
Source: Mishaal Rahman on Twitter
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