New files possibly pointing to a forthcoming, Apple streaming radio service – or at least new functionality – have been discovered in the iPad’s file system. The files include a button icon with a picture that resembles a radio tower, similar to one which used to be found in iTunes. This doesn’t definitively prove that a streaming music service is in the works, of course, but it has led to more speculation on the matter.
The files were uncovered by the folks at 9to5Mac, who went digging for information in the iOS filesystem after yesterday’s release of a viable jailbreak for iOS 6.0+ devices. The report notes that the iPad music app doesn’t currently offer a radio-like functionality, which initially led them to believe that the iPad would soon be getting an iTunes-like streaming radio service. That would be a nice improvement, but hardly groundbreaking.
For those who may have forgotten, iTunes on the desktop currently offers radio functionality, though it has become less prominent in later releases. No longer showcased on the iTunes sidebar, a “radio” option with dozens of stations is now found under the “music” section of iTunes desktop software on the far right.
The radio interface is a very basic service which hasn’t evolved much over the years. It’s nothing like the long-rumored streaming service which Bloomberg last fall pegged for an early 2013 launch. That re-imagined service is excepted to run as an app for desktop and iOS devices.
What makes the newly uncovered files in the iOS software so interesting is that they’re not just a button hinting at some sort of radio functionality – the name of the button includes “buy” in the filename (e.g. “…radio-buy-button..”)*, which could imply that the streaming radio music wouldn’t just be playable, it would be purchasable. That matches up with other, earlier reports from The WSJ that Apple’s new radio service would be more of a rival to Pandora, than it would be to an on-demand option like Spotify. Streaming radio where you could purchase songs for on-demand listening – that sounds like something the labels would like.
Of course, as 9to5Mac points out, iPod nano users have in the past been able to tag FM radio tracks for later purchase in iTunes. However, those buttons look different – they look like “tags.”
All that being said, the new files, while intriguing, aren’t enough to go on to make any definitive statements on the matter. But they certainly are interesting teases.
* Yes, “radio button” is also a type of graphic user interface element, but that’s the circle you click on to fill in the hole with a dot, like in multiple choice questions. The new buttons, pictured above, are not what you would call “radio buttons” or “option buttons.”
Image credit: 9to5Mac