If you are a proud owner of an iPhone and have recently bit the bullet and upgraded your operating system, you may have noticed among the nausea-inducing upgrades a new radio option on your music application. If you’re like me, you quickly forgot it was there and didn’t get back to it for a week. If you’re an avid Pandora user, however, I’m guessing this new little upgrade was pretty intriguing.
You may find yourself enamored with Apple’s résuée and considering ditching Pandora. But should you? The two apps are strikingly similar, and both are ad-supported. iTunes Radio currently advertises other available artists on its service, but will segue into normal advertising as it matures to support the free version of the app. Pandora is basically the same in this way, except it is already ahead of iTunes with its paid advertising.
Eventually, iTunes will catch up, and both apps will interrupt your music listening with the same annoying commercials.
If you’re bothered by commercials and willing to pay, both apps offer listening subscriptions. iTunes Radio’s ad-free subscription lies within iTunes Match, which is about $24 annually, while Pandora offers either a $36 annual fee, or a $3.99 monthly fee (which comes out to about $50 yearly). So, cost wise, iTunes Radio wins.
But, you may be paying for quality. Pandora has generated a pretty solid music experience through years of collecting listener ratings, allowing it to create radio stations that listeners want. However, iTunes Radio lacks this experience, relying more on popular artists and songs within a genre than songs that actually work well together. However, this is another aspect where iTunes should eventually catch up as it gets more user ratings — and iTunes Radio is much more lenient with skipping songs than Pandora.
Pandora offers up to six skips within an hour, and has both a paid and unpaid daily cap of skips. iTunes, on the other hand, has a six-skip limit within the hour pertaining to a radio station. So, if you’ve used up your skips on one station, you can switch to another and start over because iTunes Radio also does not have a daily cap.
Considering that you may not love the music recommendations iTunes Radio dishes out, it does give you more options while searching so that you may find a station you like.
One big setback for iTunes Radio is that it lags in availability at the moment. While Pandora is readily available for iPhones, Androids, Windows and many digital media players such as Roku and TiVo, iTunes radio is limited to solely Apple and Windows products. The exclusivity of iTunes Radio and Apple products in general may leave many not wanting to bother because … Pandora.
Lastly, to anyone out there interested in studying abroad, both of these services are extremely limited with location. Pandora is currently only available in the U.S, New Zealand and Australia, and iTunes Radio is only available in the U.S. While I’m sure there are plenty of hacks and maneuvers to access either service from abroad, when looking at the basics of what each provide, Pandora slightly pushes iTunes Radio out of the game.
My advice is, if you like what you have and
don’t want to change, you may as well stick with Pandora. But if you are
willing to wait out iTunes Radio’s growing period, this new Apple service looks
like a better value in price and quality. And knowing Apple’s ever-growing and
improving characteristics, I’d guess iTunes Radio will only get better with
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