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Apple iTunes Radio to DJ Battle Pandora, Spotify with Free Streaming

Looks like Apple's long-rumored radio service will soon hit the airwaves for real.  The company revealed the service, officially titled iTunes Radio, today during a keynote at its World Wide Developer Conference in San Francisco. 

Rumors of the service have swirled for months, but now we know that iTunes Radio will be a part of the iTunes app and will give listeners the option to tune into featured stations or create a new station from liked songs. Listeners can also purchase songs and share radio stations with friends -- all within iTunes.  All of that sounds very similar to features available in competing music services Pandora and Spotify. 

Through iTunes Radio, all your stations and your listening history are stored in iCloud. That means you can stop playing a station on one device, and pick it up on another — no syncing required. The more you play with iTunes Radio the smarter it gets about what you like, and within the settings you can control the balance between playing the hits and discovering new songs. At launch, Apple will offer access to featured stations, stations inspired by the music you already listen to, and more than 200 genre-focused stations. One bonus that Spotify and the ilk don't offer is streaming Led Zeppelin. We can't wait to see what other exclusives they bring to the table.

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And we're intrigued by the Siri integration. You'll be able to tell Siri “Play more like this” and hear similar songs. Or say “Who sings this?” to find out the artist's name. Siri can also be asked to play any music by genres or stations, as well as pause, stop or skip to the next song. 

 iTunes Radio will include ads unless subscribers are already paying for iTunes Match, in which case, the service is free.  Apple officials were light on other details, but they did show off the look-and-feel of the new service. iTunes Radio takes many cues from the cheery, more inviting interface of iOS  7, itself revealed and heavily demo'ed at WWDC 2013. Look for iTunes Radio to use a stark white background accented with bright pink typography,  and sparse gradients of blue and red.

Similar to the service's deeper functionality, details regarding record label participation were also thin. Last week, the New York Times reported that Apple struck separate licensing agreements with Warner  Music Group and Universal Records to feature the labels' artists in the Cupertino, CA company's then-undisclosed music service. At that time, the paper also reported that Sony's roster of music-makers was still under negotiation. No agreements were discussed during the keynote.

Definite launch plans were, likewise, not discussed, but we expect iTunes Radio to broadcast this fall when the newly-revealed iOS 7 launches to iPads, iPhones, iPods, Apple TVs, and Macbooks everywhere.