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Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE

Apple's iPhone 5 was one of the first real stress tests for carriers' new LTE networks, and now it has its first service to really stretch the limits of 4G: iTunes Radio.

Apple unveiled its much-anticipated streaming music answer to Pandora Monday along with a revamped iOS 7. Like Pandora, Spotify and other over-the-top mobile apps, iTunes Radio lets users create radio stations around songs or artists they like, look up songs and tap into their social networks to access what friends are listening to and share their tunes.

Unlike competing services, however, iTunes Radio won't be an app that other devices can download. Rather it will be a native service baked into iOS 7, free with ads or bundled into the US$25 annual iTunes Match service for ad-free listening.

Sure, streaming music services have been around -- and popular -- for some time now, but Apple has a tendency of taking things to the next level. Just look at what the Apple App Store did to apps and FaceTime did to video chat. It's possible that iTunes Radio will now do the same to streaming music. Given that the iPhone 4S and 5 were shown to be the biggest data hog on 3G networks across Europe, this might cause the wireless operators to stop and think what it means for their already over-burdened networks. (See iPhone 5 is Top Euro Data Hog and iPhone 4S is Most Data Hungry, Study Finds.)

Music is a much more mobile app than say, FaceTime. Given the iPhone family's undeniable popularity and the fact that iTunes Radio works over LTE, where usage is typically amplified, it'll likely put some pressure on carriers' new networks. At the very least, Apple's iTunes Radio will be a good warm-up as the operators brace for Apple's next smartphone launch, looking more and more like it's coming this fall.

— Sarah Reedy, Senior Editor, Light Reading

JVerity 7/1/2013 | 12:56:37 AM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE Yes, and how about battery life. Seems to me if you are streaming music you are using some good amount of power, no? I think I will stick to my own tunes, loaded into device from my (extensive) iTunes libe.
Jennifer J. Majors 6/19/2013 | 9:26:49 AM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE Couldn't agree more. I've been using a music streaming service on my PC (It's called Torch Music, it's awesome!) and I love the idea so much I've been wanting to download an app to my phone. The thing is, I'm a little worried about my data plan so I'm still thinking this out.
Sarah Thomas 6/11/2013 | 8:11:13 PM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE That is a big deal (that Apple quietly slipped in there!). The Passpoint program has been around for nearly a year, but there hasn't been that many devices certified. Apple should help this pick up momentum. The Galaxy SIII is the other big mobile phone that currently supports it.
philharvey 6/11/2013 | 2:45:59 PM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE It's not as big a deal as it used to be. Cars have USB ports. Treadmills at the health club have iPhone docks. Starbuck's has electricity. The worst places for connectivity are still, in my opinion, airports and public transit stations.
philharvey 6/11/2013 | 2:43:43 PM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE Yes, a lot. I use my car's Bluetooth connection and play tunes stored in my phone. At home, I use AirPlay to send tunes to my Apple TV, which is connected to a big stereo.

So if I want flawless, commercial-free music for hours, i use the offline feature and save the songs on my phone. However, lately, I've had really good luck just streaming them via AT&T's fake 4G network (I have an iPhone 4S) and the streaming quality, even while on the road, has been great.

That'll make me more impulsive and will require less storage space, I'd imagine.
Gabriel Brown 6/11/2013 | 11:29:52 AM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE Apparently iOS 7 includes Hotspot 2.0 support. This would be
a big deal for Carrier WiFi.
Gabriel Brown 6/11/2013 | 9:25:14 AM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE Re: impulse purchases

Record shops have never really recovered from the death of "50-quid man". Those guys who more or less every week would buy a bunch of records. They kept an industry ticking over.

Do you use the offline listening feature in Spotify much?
Gabriel Brown 6/11/2013 | 9:23:52 AM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE More of a limitation is "charge anxiety" -- the fear that your battery will run out if you use streaming services (of any kind) before the end of the day, leaving you unreachable by your kids' school, your boss, etc.

Operators can always increase data caps, or you can buy more.
philharvey 6/11/2013 | 12:56:12 AM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE It seems like a good deal to do iTunes Radio but I'm going to stick with Spotify Premium. It's expensive ($10/month), but it prevents me from making lots of impulse purchases on iTunes, which add up really quickly.
Sarah Thomas 6/10/2013 | 9:58:45 PM
re: Apple iTunes Radio Brings the Beat to LTE The one great limiter of services like this is the data cap. I'm a big Pandora user, and I tend to reach its 40 hour listening limit each month, mostly over LTE. It's pushing me quite close to my data cap. I'm sure iTunes Radio will do the same.

On another note, I hope Apple doesn't have some of the restrictions like 6 songs skipped and 40 hours per month that Pandora has, but I bet it will. It's quite hard to turn free users into paid ones, and I think even Apple will find the same.
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