At its WWDC keynote event today, Apple announced iTunes Radio, its long-rumored streaming music service to compete with Pandora, Spotify, Rdio, Xbox Music, Google Play Music All Access, and others. It's built right into iOS 7's Music app. When you first open the iTunes Radio tab, you see a list of Featured Stations curated by Apple. When you tap, songs start playing immediately. You can share the station with a friend, or start a new station based on that song. You can star a track, ask for "more like this," and even listen to Led Zeppelin, a first for streaming music services.
The service is free, with "text and audio ads," but if you're an iTunes Match subscriber ($24.99 / year), it's completely ad-free. It's "the best way to discover new music," according to Apple CEO Tim Cook, and it works on iOS, Mac, and Apple TV. There's Siri integration ("Play Jazz Radio"), 200 stations to choose from, track skipping, saved stations, and intelligent customization that attempts to cater to your tastes the more you use it.
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. iTunes Radio launches in the fall in the US, and presumably soon after for other areas.
This past week, Apple was rumored to have finally sealed the deal with Sony, the last of three major record labels required to get a music service off the ground here in the US. Apple is notorious for cutting deals with just hours left before big announcements, and this one looks to be no different. Licensing drama is said to be responsible for Apple's late entry into the crowded streaming music space, which has been rumored since last September.