For years, Apple’s iTunes has allowed users to listen to online radio streams from stations that made their music available online, but it has avoided launching its own streaming service to compete with Pandora and others. Today, Apple announced that it will finally jump into the streaming music stream with both feet following the debut of iTunes Radio.
From what we’ve seen at the demo at Apple’s epic World Wide Developers’ Conference presentation today, iTunes Radio works a lot like Pandora. There are featured stations based on artists (Apple says this service will the first to feature Led Zeppelin), or you can customize your own stations based on interests. If you like a song, you can buy it right then and there.
The streaming service is free but comes with ads, unless you’re an iTunes Match subscriber, in which case there are no ads.
iTunes Radio was one of many major upgrades announced for the upcoming iOS 7, which has been given the vague release date of “fall.” However, it’s the one that was the most anticipated following Google’s recent launch of its own streaming service and the Dept. of Justice lawsuit against Apple for allegedly colluding with book publishers to fix prices on the e-book market. Some have wondered what influence Apple could try to exert to edge out marginal competitors in the streaming business.