Apple is set to launch iTunes Radio – a free Internet radio service featuring over 200 stations and a catalog of music from the iTunes Store.
The announcement, made in San Francisco yesterday, comes after months of speculation as to what Apple would offer up in competition to Google’s new Google Play Music All Access streaming service, in addition to streaming and digital radio services like Spotify and Pandora.
The new ad-supported service will allow users to tune in to iTunes Radio on iPhones, iPads, iPod touchs, Macs, PCs and Apple TV.
The service includes stations inspired by the music the user already listens to, Featured Stations curated by Apple and genre-focused stations personalised for each user.
iTunes Radio evolves based on the music each user plays and downloads, personalising the mixes based on listening history and past purchases from iTunes.
In addition users will be able to have stations built around songs they like, creating and customising stations based on whatever they want to hear. Users can search for artists, songs, or genres, and iTunes Radio will instantly build a station around their choice.
It will also provide access to exclusive “first listen” premieres from top-selling artists, the ability to tag or buy anything you hear with just one click and Siri integration. Users can ask Siri questions like “Who plays that song?” or “Play more like this” and Siri will make it happen.
iTunes Radio will also be home to special events including live streams direct from the iTunes Festival in London and other exclusive iTunes Sessions.
The service will launch in the US in Autumn this year and includes an ad-free incarnation called iTunes Match which costs US$24.99 per year. With iTunes Match, all one’s music—even songs which have been imported from CDs—are stored in iCloud so iTunes Radio can use information about a user’s entire music collection to make stations more personalised.