Just days after Apple upgraded its iOS 7 mobile software to iOS 7.1, Apple-stalking site 9to5Mac reports that the Cupertino company is testing iTunes Radio as a stand-along mobile app in iOS 8, whenever that is released. Currently, iTunes Radio is packed into the default Music app, the icon for which which cannot be removed from the iPhone/iPod/iPad desktop. The iTunes Radio brand is not spelled out anywhere in the system.
As a review point of the service and its accessibility, we think iTunes Radio should exist as a separate identity in iOS. The present bundling is an intermittently unfavorable user experience. iTunes Radio was the most hotly-anticipated new music platform of 2013. We were surprised when it was not called out independently on the mobile desktop, and its accessibility has proven troublesome to this day.
It is understandable that Apple might have intended to tuck iTunes Radio into its existing music ecosystem — namely, the iTunes Music Store and the Match subscription service which unlocks premium features in iTunes Radio. But those ecosystem hooks can still exist if the streaming component (iTunes Radio) is branded and accessed independently.
Intermittently during our continued testing of iTunes Radio, the service has disappeared entirely from the Music lineup of features. (See the screen shot.) A bit of poking and/or rebooting brings it back, but a significant amount of fiddling was required on launch day, just to make the world’s hottest music service appear in the device. Finicky app performance cannot help Apple overtake its competitors in this space — mainly Pandora and iHeartRadio (according to The Infinite Dial 2014).