Although it will probably never surpass Pandora in sheer number of subscribers, iTunes Radio has done fairly well in its first six months in the crowded music streaming industry.
Already on the third place in the US, Apple’s service has surpassed the likes of Spotify, Google Play All Access, Rhapsody, Slacker, and TuneIn Radio.
Bested only by Pandora with 31% market share and iHeartRadio with a 9% slice of the music streaming pie, iTunes Radio sits nicely at 8% share with roughly 20 million users, according to Statista.
The figures don’t necessarily reflect the popularity of Apple’s service. Unlike rivaling services – which actually require the user to download and install an app, or access a site – iTunes Radio is directly integrated in the latest Apple software, including iTunes 11, iOS 7.1, and even the new CarPlay.
Also, it isn’t clear what counts as a subscriber. Simply signing up to check out the service – as was the case with Ping – doesn’t necessarily constitute a “user,” does it.
So it remains highly debatable just how many people actually enjoy music on iTunes Radio. Nonetheless, Apple continues to make efforts to expand the service to as many countries as possible, and it has even added a number of new features in iOS 7.1, the newest update for iPhone, iPad, and iPod touch customers.
iTunes Radio on iDevices now offers a search field above Featured Stations to easily create stations based on your favorite artist or song, an option to buy albums with the tap of a button from Now Playing, and iTunes Match subscriptions to enjoy iTunes Radio ad-free on iPhone, iPad, or iPod touch.
Apple’s service offers unrestricted access to more than 250 DJ-curated and genre-focused stations that evolve based on the user’s taste in music. According to the Cupertino company, “the more you use iTunes Radio and iTunes, the more iTunes Radio knows what you like to listen to — and the more it can play music you’ll love.”
A feature that undoubtedly counts as a plus when comparing iTunes Radio with its rivals, you can make adjustments by tapping Play More Like This or Never Play This Song, and iTunes Radio will know what to do in the future.
iTunes Radio is even available on Windows PC (with iTunes) and Apple TV, and all the stations are stored in iCloud for every user.
Unlike Pandora and iHeartRadio, iTunes Radio can take requests through Siri, the voice-powered personal assistant that comes pre-installed with every iPhone since 2011.