Apple Net radio service to offer both curated and user-generated stations based on listening, downloading habits

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Jun 10 2013 - 12:15pm

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Apple has officially announced iTunes Radio, its free customizable streaming online radio service.

As the name suggests, iTunes Radio will be integrated into iTunes and feature over 200 curated channels, plus algorithmically-generated channels based on listeners' favorites songs, artists, and more. All the stations can be fine-tuned by the listeners, and the company says the service will "evolve" based on listening and downloading habits.

If you already have a history using iTunes, "iTunes Radio will offer you an incredibly personalized experience on day one," says Apple.

TechCrunch writes, "Apple really has essentially taken its Genius jukebox-style feature, which combs your library and builds genre-based playlists, or suggests recommended artists and tracks based on what you’re currently listening to. The difference with the new service is that it can access the entire iTunes catalog, which, at this point, is well over 26 million tracks." (At this point it seems Apple's licensing for iTunes Radio is limited to holdings from the major record labels and publishing groups. So while unlike Genius it'll now play lots of music you don't own, it probably doesn't have access to everything that's in iTunes.)

Apple engineers even integrated it with Apple iPhone voice-recognition technology, Siri: "Ask Siri 'Who plays that song?' or 'Play more like this' and Siri will make it happen. Say something like 'Play Jazz Radio' or ask for any of your existing favorite stations and genres. Shape your stations by telling Siri what you like and don’t like, or tell Siri to pause, stop or skip. You can also have Siri add songs to your Wish List to download later."

The free ad-supported service will launch in the U.S. in fall (other countries later) and will be built into iOS 7, iTunes on OS X, and AppleTV (it'll also be available on the web for PC users). Customers of the iTunes Match cloud storage service will get iTunes Radio ad-free.

Read Apple's press release is here. TechCrunch's coverage is here.

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