At WWDC in June when iOS 7 was introduced, there was a new service announced that was not given a lot of attention. That service is iTunes Radio. iTunes Radio is a streaming radio service available on all iOS 7 devices for free. There are commercials played but if you are an iTunes Match subscriber, you will get commercial free streaming. If you have been a long time iOS user, then you are probably aware of other streaming services such as Pandora, Rdio and Spotify. They all offer streaming for free and have paid upgrades. Unlike these services, iTunes Radio is built right into iOS and easily accessible. You can also purchase the song within the music app while listening and not be switched to the store app.
After tapping Start Listening, you are taken to the main page. Displayed across the top are your Listening History and Now Playing. Under History, you can see songs played, your Wish List and purchase songs. There are two Station areas, Featured Station and My Stations.
These are pre populated stations provided by iTunes. There is a wide variety of stations and are updated all the time. Tapping on one of the Featured Stations will begin playing music.
Here is where you can create your own stations. Tapping the + will take you to a search field. You are able to search Artist, Genre, Song or chose from a pre-populated category. There are also sub-categories to further refine your choice.
Once a song starts playing, you will see the album artwork with some options. The “i” will bring up a summary screen. There is a lot of information displayed here. You can view the Artist, Song, Album, buy the song, create new stations based on the song or artist, add the station playing to your stations (this is good if you choose a Featured Station and you want to save it), allow explicit tracks and share the station. Sharing is limited as you can only share the station you are listening to, not the song that is playing. Tapping on the icon next to the price will take you to the album in the iTunes Store.
There is a minor difference between your stations and Featured stations in this area. Under Your Stations you can tune the songs played to Hits, Variety or Discovery. You cannot do this with Featured Stations.
Tap done to take you back to the Now Playing screen. In the top right corner, you are able to purchase the song right there and you won't be taken to the iTunes Store. At the bottom of the screen is the Song, Artist andAlbum currently playing along with player controls and the volume slider. Tapping on the star will allow you to Like a song, dis-like a song and add the song to your wish list. You can not like or dislike songs under the featured stations. You will also notice that there is a cloud icon on some songs where the price would be. This indicated you own the song and by tapping on the cloud you will start the download.
Editing Your Stations
Tapping Edit will take you to a list view of your stations. Here you can add a new station, delete a current station or fine tune a station. The first 2 are obvious, so lets look at fine tuning. Tap on a station and you are taken to a summary screen. Tapping edit will allow you to change the name, add Songs, Artists' or Genres to the Play More Like This list. Similarly you can add to the Never Play This list. Note, this can not be done with a Featured Station. This will only work with stations you create. Deleting a song in either section is helpful when you accidentally like or dislike a song.
- Built in
- Easy to use
- Not able to share a song, only the station
- Only allowed 6 skips per hour, This includes songs you mark as “Never Play”
- Not able to like or dislike songs in Featured Stations
- No way to upgrade to iTunes Match on your iOS device
Overall iTunes Radio is a great feature that is available to everyone with an iOS 7 device for free. Commercials can be removed for $25.00 for a year. I definitely recommend spending the $25 as you get commercial free streaming and iTunes Match service. Be warned that streaming music over a cellular connection will use up a lot of your data. This wont be an issue if you have an unlimited data plan but if you are capped then utilizing wifi is the route to go.