Apple may launch a standalone app for iTunes Radio along with iOS 8

After several years of rumors and speculations, Apple launched iTunes Radio, its free music streaming service.

iTunes Radio is currently integrated in the iTunes app on the Mac and iOS devices. 9to5Mac reports that Apple is planning to launch a standalone app for iTunes Radio to give it more visibility and increase engagement.

Mark Gruman of 9to5Mac writes:

As a standalone application, users will be able to more quickly access iTunes Radio. Psychologically for users, iTunes Radio will be its own app competing with the likes of the Pandora, Spotify, and iHeartRadio apps found on the App Store. The benefit for Apple, however, is that iTunes Radio will be pre-installed. The interface for the standalone iTunes Radio application is said to be nearly identical to the one found inside of the iOS Music app and its Home screen icon is a terrestrial radio graphic atop a red background.

Gruman who has an impeccable track record when it comes to Apple related rumors, goes on to explain how it will work:

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. 

itunes-radio-app-icon copy
Mockup of iTunes Radio icon courtesy 9to5Mac

Apple apparently was planning to launch iTunes Radio as a standalone app along with iOS 6 in 2012, but was not able to launch the service as it was not able to strike a deal with record labels.

It does make sense to release a standalone app for iTunes Radio, as I am quite sure a number of users don’t even know about it. Despite this, a report from Statista and Edison Research has revealed that Apple’s iTunes Radio service has already become the third most popular music streaming service in the United States.

If Apple launches iTunes Radio as a standalone app it will give the service lot more visibility, and would give Pandora and iHeartRadio, who are currently in the first and second place, a run for their money. Apple also needs to bring iTunes Radio to more countries, as it is currently available only in U.S and Australia.

Do you think releasing a standalone app for iTunes Radio would be the right move? Let me know in the comments.