Apple has finally entered the streaming radio sphere, but is it too late? Can Apple really compare to the gold standard that is Pandora? If you're feeling stumped over which streaming service to use, here's a look at what both have to offer (comparatively).
Costs and Pricing Details
Both Apple and Pandora are free to use, if you don't mind a few commercials here and there. If you want to listen to music without the bother of commercials, you can opt for a paid subscription plan. Apple's paid plan will cost you $24.99 per year. Pandora's plan is just a bit more than that at $36 per year.
Devices and Limitations
Apple's new iTunes Radio only works with Apple devices. You can stream music from iTunes Radio using any iOS device, Apple TV, Windows (the one exception) or Mac OS. Pandora's reach goes a bit further letting you stream from any iOS, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry, Mac OS, or Windows device. Clearly, if you have don't have an Apple device, your only option here is Pandora.
No streaming service is worth its salt if it doesn't come with an amazing catalog of music. Pandora boasts 800,000 tracks from 800,000 artists. Apple has stated that the company has struck deals with three of the biggest record labels. How many songs that translates into or how many artists Apple will be offering has yet to be seen. Apple should be releasing these details shortly.
Features and Selections
Apple has just announced a ton of new features for the upcoming iTunes Radio. One feature that might turn some users away from Pandora is the song filtering option that Apple has come up with. When searching for a song using iTunes Radio, Apple will let users search by selecting just popular songs or sorting songs to find those that have never been heard before. In short, Apple will let users control the way that song selections are made.
If you're using Pandora, you are limited to the algorithms that Pandora puts forth. This means that you won't have much control over search and filtering options. Of course, integration with Siri and iTunes will appeal to many iOS users. If you choose to use iTunes Radio, you will also receive automatic cloud backup of any purchased tunes via iTunes.
There's a lot about iTunes Radio that we don't know yet. Apple will be releasing additional details over the next few weeks. What we do know is that Apple is gunning for some of Pandora's market, and that may mean a better streaming service.
Unfortunately, Apple will not be releasing its iTunes Radio outside of the United States, for now. Pandora, on the other hand, is available in the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. Sorry, Canada, you lose out once again.
Stay tuned for iTunes Radio tests, details and announcements from Apple. It's also fair to state that Pandora might be playing a game of catch up once Apple's play for a streaming audience is complete.