Apple today launched iTunes Radio in Australia, its first market outside of the United States. The streaming service, built into the Music app pre-installed on all iOS devices, will give listeners access to over 100 stations.

Unlike Spotify, Rdio and Deezer, iTunes Radio isn’t an on-demand music streaming service. It’s free and ad-supported, putting it against other internet radio services such as Pandora and Last.fm. If you’re a subscriber to iTunes Match – which current costs $34.99 in Australia – the ads are stripped out and you’ll be able to listen uninterrupted.

Inside the Music app on iOS 7, Apple shows a list of Featured Stations curated by its own staff, as well a list of radio stations that you’ve set up yourself.  Tap once and a playlist is built, which you can listen to and share with friends. Apple is hoping the service will also be a gateway back into its iTunes store, which rose to prominence alongside the iPod. When listeners discover new music that they like, they can either tag it for future reference, ask for “more like this” or purchase it directly from iTunes.

iTunes Radio was announced in June last year for iOS 7, Apple TV, Mac and PC. Apple says its streaming service will get smarter over time, learning from your listening habits and personal collection on iTunes. The firm also promises exclusive music “before you hear them anywhere else” via its First Play initiative, which should give iTunes Radio a small edge over its rivals.

Apple’s presence in the music streaming market can’t be understated, but it’s notable that the company hasn’t opted for an on-demand, subscription-based service similar to Microsoft with Xbox Music  and Google with All Access. Nevertheless, it’ll be interesting to see how Apple developers iTunes Radio over the coming months and years.

Apple is also rumored to be launching the service in the UK, Canada and New Zealand in the early part of this year.

Press Release

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