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Software & Web Development

Apple gets into the stream of things with iTunes Radio

While introducing the remodeled Music app in the forthcoming iOS 7 update, Apple senior vice president of Internet software and services Eddy Cue also took the wraps off the company's upcoming streaming music service, iTunes Radio. 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.

Out of the box, 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. (You can additionally choose to share the station with a friend from this screen.)

You can also create a station from the Stations screen. When you choose to create a new station you'll see a list of genres created by Apple, as well as a field at the top of the screen where you can enter an artist, genre, or song. As you type, iTunes Radio makes suggestions to you. When you've completed your entry, the station will be added to the Stations screen and appear under a My Stations heading. Tap on the station to play it.

Play screen navigation is straightforward. If you tire of the song you're currently listening to, just tap on the Next button at the bottom of the screen to move to the next song. Although there's no Back button for moving to the previous track, if you move back to the Stations screen and tap History, you can see any tracks you've played. From what we've seen, you can't then play these tracks in full but rather preview or purchase them. (You can also purchase tracks on the Now Playing screen by tapping their price at the top fo the window).

While on the Now Playing screen, you tap a star button and choose to play more songs like the currently playing track, never play that song again, or add the song to your iTunes wish list. Like Pandora, the first two options allow you to fine-tune your stations.

iTunes Radio will be available with iOS 7, built into an upcoming version of iTunes for the Mac and Windows, and accessible through an Apple TV. There will be two models for the service--ad-supported and free or ad-free if you have an iTunes Match subscription, which costs $25 per year. The service will launch first in the U.S. in the fall with other countries to follow.

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