Rumors of Apple's music streaming service have been swirling for months now, but today that service made the jump from rumor to reality during the company's Worldwide Developers Conference keynote speech. Dubbed iTunes Radio, the Pandora-like streaming service will allow users to listen to radio stations based off of an artist or genre. Apple says that iTunes Radio features over 200 stations and utilizes the iTunes Store music catalog.
When users opens up iTunes Radio, they'll be presented with stations based on the music that they already listen to as well as Featured Stations that are curated by Apple. Users can also create a station based on a specific artist and then tweak that station while listening to it by telling iTunes Radio to play more music that's similar to a specific song, or to avoid music that's similar to a song that they don't like. And of course, since iTunes Radio is integrated with iTunes, users will be able to buy music that they really enjoy with a single click.
Thanks to Siri's expanded feature set in iOS 7, the voice-controlled assistant can be used for much of the functionality in iTunes Radio. Siri can identify the artist behind the currently-playing song and can tweak a radio station based on a user's like or dislike of a track. Siri can also access a user's stations, control music playback and add songs to a Wish List for future downloading.
In addition to basic radio station streaming, Apple promises that iTunes Radio will be a source of exclusive music for listeners, including pre-release streams of entire albums. The service will also feature exclusive tracks from artists on the rise, livestreams from the iTunes Festival and music from iTunes Sessions.
iTunes Radio is scheduled to launch this fall and will be available on iOS devices, iTunes on the Mac and PC as well as on the Apple TV. The service will be free to all users but will be ad-supported. Subscribers of iTunes Match, a $24.99/year service that stores all of a user's music library in iCloud, will get ad-free iTunes Radio streaming as part of their subscription.