There has been a lot of speculation about iTunes Radio since word first broke last year that Apple had started discussions with record labels. Although opinions won't come until people get actual hands-on experience with the product on Tuesday -- the expected launch date -- we know of numerous features thanks to an iTunes Radio page at Apple.com and a leaked licensing contract.
The short version: iTunes Radio appears to be an attractive, well-designed service with all the features one would expect from an Internet radio service. The integration with iTunes Match, Apple's cloud-based music storage service, gives iTunes Radio an added dimension competitors cannot match.
Below is the long version of what to expect from iTunes Radio and how certain features compare to those of its competitors.
-- iTunes Radio will initially be available only in the United States. Countries in Western Europe are expected to follow. There is certainly potential for a much wider release. After all, iTunes Music Store is available in 119 countries. However, advertising is central to iTunes Radio's business model and will prevent Apple from simply rolling out the radio service wherever Apple sells music Apple has been lining up advertisers for a September launch in the United States, according to sources familiar with its plans. These advertisers include blue chip sponsors, such as McDonald's, Nissan, Pepsi and Procter & Gamble. Sources confirm that Apple plans to run around one advert every 15 minutes-much less than traditional radio, but seen as a good way to boost the new service's popularity.
-- iTunes Radio can be accessed via a "radio" tab in the iTunes mobile app and desktop client. It will also be available via Apple TV. Judging from images online, it appears the iOS 7 version of iTunes will have five sections: Radio, Genius, Playlists, Artists and the catch-all "More" category.
-- The top of the iOS app will have featured stations. One online image shows three featured stations: "If You Like Bruce Springsteen...," "Country Summer Songs" and "Trending on Twitter."