GADGET WATCH: iTunes Radio

Besides unveiling a completely redesigned iOS 7 operating system for the iPhone and iPad at its annual WorldWide Developers Conference last week, Apple also used the conference to launch iTunes Radio.

The long-rumoured streaming music service will be built into iTunes on iOS devices, Macs, PCs and Apple TV.

Hardware and features

iTunes Radio features more than 200 free stations and, like its rivals Spotify and RDO, it allows listeners to customise their own radio stations by genre, skip songs multiple times, or just tune in to stations.

It’s “the best way to discover new music,” according to Apple chief executive Tim Cook.

The service is free with ads, while subscribers to the $34.99 a-year iTunes Match program won’t see ads.

What’s the consensus?

At TechCrunch the publication compared iTunes radio’s features to those of existing Apple products and competitors.

“Apple really has essentially taken its Genius jukebox-style feature, which combs your library and builds genre-based playlists, or suggests recommended artists and tracks based on what you’re currently listening to. The difference with the new service is that it can access the entire iTunes catalogue, which, at this point, is well over 26 million tracks. Sony, Universal and Warner are all on board.”

Track-skipping is supported, something TechCrunch reports was a sticking point in negotiations with music label partners leading up to this product launch.

“What’s striking is that it looks a lot like Pandora. On iOS, you create your custom stations, you can give a thumb up if you like a song. In the corner of every song, iOS shows a “Buy” button to make to funnel song purchases in the iTunes Store. It was probably one of the requirements to sign the deals with major music companies and could become a good revenue generator for the iTunes Store.”

At Engadget the publication described iTunes Radio as “a bit of a wild card” in the lead up to the WWDC.

The publication described the service as featuring “easy access to radio” based on your music collection.

“The company’s also got hundreds of its own stations, grouped by artists and genre — artists like, get this, Led Zeppelin. You can modify stations by telling the app which songs you love and hate, and you can access old stations by clicking your history button.”

For MacWorld, the similarities between iTunes Radio and its competitors was the key feature.

“Rather than an on-demand service such as Spotify, iTunes Radio has more in common with Pandora, where you listen to stations inspired by a particular track, artist, or genre.”

From the word go, MacWorld says iTunes Radio will include more than 200 featured stations created by Apple, such as Songs Trending on Twitter, Summer Songs, ’80s Dance Party, and Artists on Tour.

“Additionally, you can create stations of your own. As you listen to a track, tap the I icon at the top of the screen and then tap New Station From Artist or New Station From Song.”

At The Verge the publication gave its verdict on iTunes radio, and it was not quite the glowing endorsement Cook may have been looking for.

“iTunes Radio is not quite the all-encompassing Spotify competitor some of us have been looking for, but it’s definitely a start for Apple.”

Who’s it for?

Apple fans who want to use an Apple product for their digital radio needs will love iTunes Radio.  Just don’t expect anything radically different to what’s already on offer from competitors like Spotify and Pandora.

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