Computer giant Apple has unveiled its "iTunes Radio" music streaming service, saying it will personalise listeners' music based on what they bought and previewed on iTunes.

In an announcement in San Francisco on Monday, Apple said the new software, which will compete with similar products such as Google Music, Pandora and Spotify, will be available in Autumn in the US.

It is to be included in a new operating system, iOS 7, and will be free to use but supported by advertising.

Apple was a pioneer of online music sales, but services such as Spotify and Pandora, which stream music without listeners needing to buy the music they access, have emerged as popular alternatives.

Pandora and Spotify also make recommendations to the listener based on their tastes and previous plays.

Personal experience

Like Pandora, iTunes Radio will let people create stations based on specific songs, artists or genres and match suggestions to music they have already played.

"This is a nice free feature that lots of people will probably try out, but existing Pandora users won't have much reason to switch," Jan Dawson, a telecoms analyst at Ovum, said.

Dawson said a service that lets people call up specific songs on demand would have made a bigger splash, "but that would likely have disrupted Apple's existing iTunes business, and the music industry as a whole, too much."

Pandora charges $36 a year for advert-free listening, more than Apple at $25. Pandora also has a free, ad-supported version like iTunes Radio. Spotify also runs advert-supported and ad-free subscription services.

In February, Pandora capped free listening on mobile devices to 40 hours per month. Apple said Monday that its service would have no limits.

ITunes Radio will also offer featured stations, which play songs that are the most-talked about on Twitter, for example.

Source: Agencies