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Apple eyes up Spotify with intro of iTunes Radio

As expected, Apple has unveiled a new music service, dubbed iTunes Radio.

The Internet radio feature, debuting this autumn, will be available on iOS 7 devices via the music app, and on the Mac and PC via iTunes, as well as Apple TV. Ad-supported listening is free, while those who pay for iTunes Match can listen without interruption.

Eddy Cue, Apple's senior vice president of Internet Software and Services, provided a demo of iTunes Radio at Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference (WWDC) last night. It functions much like Pandora, with users able to tap into more than 200 stations. Cue didn't specify which labels signed deals with Apple for iTunes Radio, but he played a song from Maroon 5 during his demo, which is Sony, as well as Bruno Mars from Warner Bros. and The Rolling Stones from Universal Music, which are the major three labels.

Like Pandora, iTunes Radio will serve up music based on your listening habits. "The more you use iTunes Radio and iTunes, the more it knows what you like to listen to and the more personalised your experience becomes," Apple said.

Apple will suggest genre-specific stations, but users can create their own stations as well. Just tell iTunes Radio if you like or dislike a song, or if you hear one you want to add to your wish list.

Above each song will be a link to buy it on iTunes. If you can't remember what you were listening to, a history section provides a refresher. You can also tap the "i" button to share with friends on Twitter or elsewhere.

Users can pause, stop, or skip songs, though Apple didn't say how many songs you can skip on the ad-supported platform. You can do all those things via voice with Siri, too, or ask her for more details with questions like: "Who plays that song?" or "Play more like this," or "Play Jazz Radio."

Rumours about an iTunes-based subscription music service have been circulating for years, but deals with the major labels reportedly held things up. Recently, however, there were reports that the Cupertino-based company finally landed deals with Warner and Universal Music Groups, and - more recently - Sony.

Undoubtedly, Apple's redesigned iOS 7 stole the WWDC show last night. Check out our feature about the new operating system, and how it's not just a superficial modification.