If Pandora is a trainable dog, iTunes Radio is Apple’s jeans-and-hoodie clad salesman. This new music streaming service comes included as part of the iOS 7 updates to Apple mobile devices, available on Sept. 18.
For those Pandora users out there, the layout is strikingly familiar. The recognizably Apple interface allows you to see the album artwork and song duration, while being able to pause/play, skip, and star songs. The star button holds the station building options “play more like this” and “never play this again.”
A third option, unique to iTunes Radio, offers users the ability to “Add to my iTunes wish list.” This and the little buy button in the top right hand corner of the screen are this service’s attempt to win back the consumers that iTunes has lost to other Internet radio services.
As with its competitors, iTunes users create a streaming station by selecting a song, artist, or genre, and then building their station using the star button. There are still ads every few songs, and skipping is limited to roughly five or six times per hour.
One exciting feature that sets iTunes Radio apart is a station built with songs from #Music, Twitter’s music app. In essence, it will be built around songs and artists that are trending in the #Music Twittersphere.
iTunes Radio incorporates a main menu option to look over your complete listening history across all stations, an attribute unique to this streaming service. Apple then gives you the ability to buy every song that appears in this history.
Perhaps the most distinguishing feature of Apple’s project is that it is built on your music library. Much like the Genius feature, iTunes Radio draws from your library and previous music purchases to make its selections. But this feature comes with an ulterior motive—getting you to buy more songs.
As you purchase more tracks from the iTunes store, iTunes Radio adjusts its programming and song selection based on your recent music information, tailoring its selections to match what you have paid for in the past.
Although this service is riddled with shameless retail ploys, it offers a multitude of useful features, many of which are unique to our favorite Cupertino tech company. Delivered in the expected pretty package, this free service is worth checking out.
Originally Published in The Georgetown Voice 09/12/13