According to a new report by the well-connected Apple blogger Mark Gurman, the iPhone maker is testing iTunes Radio as a standalone iOS 8 app.
iTunes Radio is currently part of the stock Music app in iOS 7 and moving it to a standalone app is said to be a way of boosting usage, according to sources briefed on the plans. This should allow users to more quickly access iTunes Radio and, which will come pre-installed in iOS 8.
The UI of the standalone iTunes Radio app is said to be “nearly identical” to its iOS Music counterpart, with the Home screen icon resembling a terrestrial radio graphic atop a red background…
According to Gurman:
The functionality of iTunes Radio will also be akin to its iOS 7 Music app counterpart.
Users will be able to browse their history, purchase streamed tracks, locate Featured Stations, create stations based on songs, artists, and albums, and manage stations.
Apple previously considered releasing iTunes Radio as a standalone application in iOS 6, but due to problems with striking record label deals, the company ultimately pushed the launch back to iOS 7.
Such a move wouldn’t be out of character for Apple as it previously moved certain aspects of stock iOS offerings to their own apps.
The original iPod app (now Music), for example, used to include movies, television shows, podcasts and music. Starting with iOS 5, Apple moved movies and TV shows to their own app, Videos. And in iOS 6, a standalone Podcasts app made its debut as an optional free download from the App Store.
Moving iTunes Radio to its own app could also benefit ad sales on the service.
According to Gurman’s sources, Apple’s acquisition of Burstly (the company behind the popular iOS testing platform TestFlight) earlier this year signals Apple’s interest in using Burstly’s SkyRocket expertise in mobile advertising to improve the iAd platform.
iAd, an advertising system from Apple for iOS devise, exclusively powers audio advertising on iTunes Radio. As of October 2013, iTunes Radio had 20 million unique listeners and 1 billion played songs since its inception in September 2013.
According to an Edison Research survey, iTunes Radio has surpassed Spotify and is now the third most popular streaming music service in the United States with an eight percent share versus #2 iHeartRadio’s nine percent and #1 Pandora’s 31 percent share of the US streaming music market.