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Tuning In to iTunes Radio

We review Apple’s new streaming music service

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Having long ago cornered the market on digital music sales, Apple has waded into the thorny jungle of Internet streaming with its new iTunes Radio service, a part of the recent iOS 7 update. Anybody who has used Pandora will feel a strange sense of déjà vu, as the basic tenets are the same: Punch in the name of your favorite artist, song, or genre, and the iTunes robots go to work curating a stream based around that request. Along the way, you can endorse tracks that are particularly interesting and ban those you don’t like, though iTunes Radio has trouble following the latter direction — exiled songs have a nasty habit of returning.

Casual fans will dig the chance to expand their libraries thanks to the ubiquitous purchase button on every tune, but hardcore devotees will find iTunes Radio lacking. The algorithms just don’t seem to be all that intelligent yet: Though you can set each station on ”Hits,” ”Variety,” or ”Discovery” mode, there doesn’t actually appear to be much difference among them (listening to the ’90s Alternative station on ”Discovery” brought up a ton of Nirvana, which shouldn’t be new to anyone looking to explore that era). The best part of iTunes Radio is also the ideal use for Siri, as you can simply shout, ”More Van Halen!” and get your wish. But despite the slick interface, it would still be more satisfying to call up 1984 on Spotify. B

EW’s New Ranking of the Best in Streaming Services

1. Rdio
2. Spotify
3. Rhapsody
4. iTunes Radio
5. Pandora

(For full reviews of all the major services, go to ew.com/streaming)