While I love iTunes for the cataloging it allows, Apple’s expansion of its flagship music product has been decidedly hit and miss.
For every interesting new feature added to iterations of iTunes, Apple’s bigger ideas have lurched from the decidedly ‘meh’ (iTunes Match) to the out-and-out awful (Ping), as the company struggles to build on the iTunes Store and bring another major addition to its music ecosystem.
Nevertheless, the part of tonight’s new iOS announcement that most piques my interest* is the news that Apple will this Autumn step into the personalised radio space.
iRadio – was it ever going to be called anything else? – will be a a free internet radio service based on the music you listen to on iTunes, whether on an iPhone, iPad, iPod touch, Pac, PC or Apple TV.
The trouble is that personalised radio doesn’t seem to be that easy to do, as anyone who’s tried to make sense of Spotify’s radio options will know.
Perhaps that isn’t surprising. The company that to my mind does it best is Last.fm and that’s likely because I let it record everything I listen to on iTunes and its devices, or Spotify or on Last.fm itself.
So when Apple says iRadio will give you access to stations inspired by the music you already listen to, it seems to really mean music you listen to in iTunes (though it’s already had one ‘walled garden‘ failure).
Moreover, given that my family is mistakenly of the opinion that most of my musical taste is awful, if iRadio does, as promised, evolve based on the music played and download through the iTunes store we’re all going to want some way of filtering out other people’s listening habits.
And while billing iRadio “the best way to discover new music” is certainly going to be a hard boast for Apple to live up to, a new iOS music applications is still something to look forward to.
* The announcement that Siri now has Wikipedia integration (and the thought of what might be possible should it one day work in tandem with IBM’s Watson, say) is pretty interesting too