iOS 8: Apple considers moving iTunes Radio to its own app to boost usage

iTunesRadioIn an effort to boost usage of its new streaming music service that launched alongside iOS 7 last fall, Apple is considering changes to iTunes Radio. The Cupertino company is now testing iTunes Radio as a standalone application with iOS 8, according to sources briefed on the plans. iTunes Radio first arrived as a feature within the iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch operating system’s Music application. As a tab in the already-existing Music app, iTunes Radio has not received a promoted presence on iOS, and this likely has deterred growth for the service in terms of advertising revenue and usage…

As a standalone application, users will be able to more quickly access iTunes Radio. Psychologically for users, iTunes Radio will be its own app competing with the likes of the Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio apps found on the App Store. The benefit for Apple, however, is that iTunes Radio will be pre-installed. The interface for the standalone iTunes Radio application is said to be nearly identical to the one found inside of the iOS Music app and its Home screen icon is a terrestrial radio graphic atop a red background.

iTunes Radio Image

The functionality of iTunes Radio will also be akin to its iOS 7 Music app counterpart. Users will be able to browse their history, purchase streamed tracks, locate Featured Stations, create stations based on songs, artists, and albums, and manage stations. Apple previously considered releasing iTunes Radio as a standalone application in iOS 6, but due to problems with striking record label deals, the company ultimately pushed the launch back to iOS 7.

Apple has previously removed functionality from the standard iOS Music (formally called iPod) app and separated functionality into standalone apps. For example, Apple moved video playback for movies, TV shows, and music videos from the iPod app into a Videos app with iOS 5. With iOS 6, Apple began promoting Podcasts as its own App Store app and removed playback from the Music app. In early 2012, Apple re-located playback of iTunes University content to its own app.

These considerations are still in the early stages, so it is possible that the change does not come to fruition this year. With the recently released iOS 7.1, Apple has made searching for content and signing up for iTunes Match (which removes ads) more intuitive.

Making iTunes Radio a standalone application will also likely spur an increase in advertisers looking to promote their products within the new Apple music service. Sources add that Apple acquired Burstly earlier this year in an effort to use the startup’s SkyRocket service’s expertise in mobile advertising to improve the iAd platform, which powers the advertisements for iTunes Radio.

As Spotify looks to tackle iTunes Radio with a new free tier and as Pandora continues to grow, Apple executives could bet on a newly promoted presence for iTunes Radio on iOS Home screens to make the service further live up to what Pandora’s CFO previously called a “credible threat.”

In addition to making iTunes Radio a standalone application, Apple is moving aggressively to try to expand iTunes Radio to several new markets across the globe. In September of 2013, iTunes Radio launched exclusively for the United States. The feature spread to Australia earlier this year, and Apple is said to be hoping to launch in countries such as Canada, New Zealand, and the United Kingdom in the coming months. This move to expand comes soon after Samsung launched its Milk streaming music service as exclusive to the United States.


Apple has been mum on iTunes Radio usage in recent months, but the company shared some usage statistics late last year. Apple said in September that iTunes Radio had 11 million unique users in its launch week. In late October, Apple CEO Tim Cook announced that the service had 20 million unique listeners and 1 billion played songs over the course of the service’s launch month. For comparison, Pandora had over 75 million active listeners this past February, and it still dominates 31% of the market. Moving to a standalone application and expanding the service’s reach to more regions internationally could boost iTunes Radio’s marketshare.

Mockup of iTunes Radio icon created by Michael Steeber.

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  1. Ben Dixon (@BenSDixon) - 9 years ago

    It would be great if they could launch it in other countries first. It was one of the main features of iOS 7 that I was looking forward to using.

  2. rtoolstechnology - 9 years ago

    I don’t know if it’s a good idea. They may loose some of the audience.

  3. Please don’t. Apple needs to fix the Podcast app, then work on iTunes Radio app.

  4. I remember when they removed the iPod app in favor for the music and movies apps being separate. I’m not sure what to thing about this but either way I do enjoy iTunes radio. They just need to add some feature that a competitor doesn’t have already.

  5. Yay, another icon we can’t delete! More to tuck away in a folder.

  6. Jacob Lamczyk - 9 years ago

    I hope that Apple does not do this. One of the best aspects of iTunes radio is that its not its own app and is integrated with the Music app. I hated when they split Videos from the iPod app and made FaceTime its own app. I am praying apple does not make this mistake again.

  7. Would not boost usage for me

    • Me neither. I live in Denmark and iTunes Radio is not available here yet. I think I will be using it when it becomes available though as I’m already paying for iTunes Match.

  8. Makes sense in any way you look at it.

    – Product differentiation from the Music app. They’re different things, they should have different apps.
    – Product visibility (for comparison with competing services)
    – A more streamlined user experience, specific to internet radio. Saved stations, custom streams.

    If Apple allows users to add their own streams to the app (I’d hate to “lose” my DI stations, no matter how good Apple’s will be), it’ll blow any other internet radio app out of the water.

    There might be an issue with countries where the service is not yet available (like mine). However, if they give us the general international streams, I’m sure most customers will be content with that (I can’t imagine Apple delving into the various styles of Greek music -especially some of them- in order to create Greek stations…)

  9. Kitzng (@MaxKitzing) - 9 years ago

    In my opinion Apple should build a streaming service like Spotify (and I am talking about the “listen to what you want”). I am just using this type of service to explore new songs and for free listening I use, of course, Spotify.

  10. Mr. Grey (@mister_grey) - 9 years ago

    Since it’s only available in the States and isn’t really “radio” anyway, who gives a crap?

    All these streaming music apps are basically apps for people who don’t really know anything about music, don’t really like music that much and just want some noise in the background.

    If you like music and want to listen to the radio, listen to a real radio station with a real human DJ or listen to Internet radio (same thing but digital). Apple’s ‘iTunes radio” is just a stream of music they want to market to you so they can sell ads and pick up a few unintentional sales from drunks.

    • shm1ck83 - 9 years ago

      It is avalaiable in other countries, I’m in Australia and have been listening in from day 1.

      I love music and have thousands of songs in my library, but apparently I don’t like or know anything about music.

      I can not pick up a radio signal at my workplace and human DJ’s talk to much shit, so streaming iTunes Radio is perfect for me.

      Think about your post before you ramble on, makes you look like a dick!

  11. Ed Lucas - 9 years ago

    if pandora can have their app running on my iPod touch 4g, then iTunes radio should be able too. apple only has themselves to blame

  12. Scott Hilt (@scotthilt) - 9 years ago

    I hope Apple does make iTunes Radio a separate app. I use iTunes Radio almost daily. I’ve even stop using pandora. Instead of paying $36/yr for no ads on Pandora I can pay Apple $25/yr to remove iTunes Radio ads, but also get iTunes Match. That’s a way better deal!

  13. Scott Gerber - 9 years ago

    Why not do both?

    Just leave iTunes Radio in the Music App for iOS and in iTunes for OS X, but also make it a stand-alone app. If accessed inside of the main app (Music or iTunes), it functions as a link to open the stand-alone app.

    To me, iTunes on the desktop has grown to encompass so many different features that could be Apps in their own right. Why is the App Store in iTunes separate from the Mac App Store that exists as a stand-alone app in OS X? Then, in iOS, the App Store is it’s own app. Either pick one way of organizing or make it available both ways.

    And don’t get me started on the iTunes name. Shouldn’t it be iMedia at this point? It’s music, music videos, movies, tv shows, podcasts and audio books. All that plus an App Store for everything but OS X apps. What a mess!

    • Mike Sabino - 9 years ago

      Agreed on doing both! Also have thought the same thing about the iTunes name for quite some time, esp. once they started to split up the apps on iOS. Should have changed to iPlay or iMedia a long time ago

  14. Why not just do the same thing they have done with Contacts? Contacts has its own App, but it’s also part of the Phone App as well.

  15. Would love to listen to it on my Sonos system…

  16. drtyrell969 - 9 years ago

    The entire idea of this product is hilarious. Yeah, the #1 world to grab new customers today is “radio.” A concept an object a service all but completely fossilized in the mind of modern man. Great idea! Why not Podcast TV? Or SOMETHING original and new.

  17. Michael Bowser - 9 years ago

    This will be seen as logical and inevitable in several months once CarPlay is actually being used.

  18. pucagaeilge - 9 years ago

    This makes perfect sense for Apple.

    It makes sense for users, too, because now when you open the Music app it jumps to the Radio tab even if that wasn’t the last thing you were doing. Very annoying.

  19. Tye Allan (@TyeMN) - 9 years ago

    Less is better! Love the fact that you can access ALL media (music, movies, TV Shows, podcast and radio) in one app (iTunes). Why have an app for every / all forms of media. DUMB move on Apples part if they do add a new app. Wish Apple would integrate more apps for iPhone, iPad and iPod

  20. Clint (@ClintAustin26) - 9 years ago

    This is good. It needs to be it’s own animal and have a more robust feature set.

  21. Mike Sabino - 9 years ago

    As others have mentioned, doing both (having individual apps, while also keeping iRadio within iTunes (ala Contacts within Phones) would be ideal.

    The bigger, more important things I want from iRadio is to fix their algorithms or whatever is controlling the playlist/selection. There are 2 major problems I have with the playlist. 1) a few key songs will repeat far too much, like within the next 5 songs, the same song will replay. (I wonder if a song appearing in multiple albums like greatest hits, was accounted for?) 2) Some songs, which I have marked as “Never Play”, will play again.

    On my wish list:
    -better Facebook integration. Apps like Spotify allows for block os songs recently listened to, to be posted on FB (or it used to?) You used to be able to click on the songs too, and preview a song. You think this would be a good way to try to promote sales. Allow posts of music played music blocks with playable preview links, and then also a link that takes you straight to the iTunes page. That might help drive some traffic/sales. This was great when I used to see it more for Spotify posts, because seeing it in my feed from friends whose taste I already know, and then also seeing posts of songs I like, next to something I didn’t know, usually prompted me to check it out.

    -move/improve some of the functionality on iOS. When in the “Edit” list for stations, you can add artists, songs, genre to the “Play More” or “Never play” lists, without having to be listening to that artist/band /genre at the time. This is great functionality. But why is this not easily accessible while in a station, playing that station. These options should become available immediately within the station you are playing by clicking either the “i” button or by click on the album artwork

    -Be more Social. Currently on iRadio it seems you can only share a link to a Staion? That is lame. Aside from posting playlist blocks to FB as mentioned earlier, they could make the experience far more social. Spotify is fa more social in its ability to follow friends and their specific playlists. Why not go even further and look at some other apps have done and do Station rooms. The playlists can be live, where anyone can submit a song to the room playlist, the order changes slightly based on up votes, but your song will will still get played within a given time period, or some sort of limitation on not being skipped over too many times. Things like this really make it an experience, a destination.

    -IRadio in iCloud. Bring all of the functionality to iCloud. This way, if you only have an iPhone, iPad, etc you can access your stations anywhere, because you already have an iCloud account. The iWork suite is already there, and has been given multi-user functionality. Do the same with iRadio

    -The overall layout of iRadio can be improved. The “History” or stream is the second column, but not quite in the middle. This feels awkward. Either make it more defined as the stream and centered, or push it to the the side and make it the first column. The layout/presentation of the “Play more” and “Never play” lists can also be more defined and laid out better.

  22. Troy Pippenger - 9 years ago

    I hope they do move it to a separate app or at least stop it from being the default screen every time I open the Music app. I miss the old behavior where the Music app remembered what I was listening to last time I used it.

  23. DrM47145  (@DrM47145) - 9 years ago

    Absolutely. That’s what I expected. The iTunes App is already too convoluted, with your music, the store, movies, old purchases displaying… they fucked it up. As soon as I open it, I want to just close it.
    The iPhone has forgotten the iPod for way too long now…

  24. Ron Royer (@rrnh1) - 9 years ago

    I wonder how many Apple users are still using iOS 6 on olde iPods, etc. Seems like a waste not to do something for those of us still using older iPods

  25. Donald Brown - 8 years ago

    Besides all of the advertising models and such, what iTunes Radio needs to do is to simply offer features currently not found on any other Internet radio service. That too would help increase listener support as well.

    For example, there’s one other Internet radio model that supports the blending of stations. All of the other Internet radio services other than AccuRadio don’t offer this feature. However, listeners of AccuRadio can blend radio stations together to provide a richer listening experience.

    If iTunes Radio did the same thing, that would greatly increase listenership because listeners could truly customize their listening experience. Also, it would be great to have the ability to build playlists on the service too, and to have the ability to merge playlists together in the same way that you would blend stations together for a richer listening experience.

    Not even Spotify, pandora and any other Internet radio service offers this feature, and this would be a feature that a whole lot of people would want.

    An annoyance to listening to iTunes Radio is the infomous “Are you still listening?” that pops up from time to time. Several Internet radio apps display this, and it can be quite annoying at times. They say that they don’t like playing to an empty room, but how do they know that the room is even empty? That’s a very good question.

    Even though iTunes Radio is in competition with services such as Spotify, it still lacks some of Spotify’s features such as the ability to download entire stations for offline listening pleasure for those who do not have unlimited Internet access on their mobile devices.

    By offering these and other features that aren’t found on any other Internet radio service would place iTunes Radio in a league all its own, and would put it in direct competition with big rivals such as Spotify, Iheart Radio, and AccuRadio just to name a few.

    So as you can see, it isn’t just all about the advertising model, it is also about the features that are offered that can make all the difference in the world.

    People want their music and they want it in the way that they want it, commercial free and totally customizable!

  26. Jeannie Allen - 8 years ago

    Yeah do that would you? Cause I am on IOS 8.3 after JUST upgrading from 8.2 and with either version my iTunes starts ghost playing all on it’s own!! I’ve called your support as I believe it’s a bug because it never happened before. I am on a new iPad mini 3 (just got it 2-1/2 weeks ago upgrading from my previous iPad mini which was on 8.2.) And just before I purchased the new one the old one started doing the same thing!! And my bluetooth is NOT on —it’s a poltergeist issue and is really really annoying–especially when driving in my car with my 2005 Ford Taurus original stereo (dinosaur) and my iPad sitting on the seat just takes off playing!! Plus if I have my sound off it’s draining the crap out of an already battery hog!! PLEASE FIX IT!!