The Best Streaming Music Apps for iPhone

Last Updated: Aug. 4, 2015

Streaming music apps are the logical evolution of the promise delivered by the iPod, and later the iPhone: to make it easy to carry a music library of thousands of songs anywhere you go.

But why be limited to just a few thousand songs? Why not choose from virtually every song available digitally? You can, using these apps that stream music over the Internet to your iPhone, iPod touch, and computer. Most of them have free and paid versions. Some are radio-style (you choose a "station," but don't control what songs play), while others are jukebox style (you choose the album or song, and create playlists).

If you're interested in expanding your digital music options, I've reviewed and ranked the leading contenders.

RELATED: Apple Music vs Spotify: Which Is The Best Music Service?​

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spotify for iphone

Spotify is one of the leaders in the jukebox-style streaming music space. Instead of listening to a radio station based on your tastes, just search for an artist you'll be able to listen to virtually all of their albums with a few clicks. Spotify offers a free, ad-supported version, as well as paid tiers that remove ads, add unlimited and offline listening, and, for US$9.99/month, let you listen on iOS devices.
4 out of 5 Stars More »

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pandora app
image copyright Pandora

Pandora is the granddaddy of streaming music services and still one of the very best. It uses a radio-style approach, where you enter a song or artist and it creates a "station" of music you'll like based on that choice. Refine the stations by giving thumbs up or down to each song, or adding new musicians or songs to a station. With a gigantic database of music tastes and relationships powering it, Pandora is a terrific tool for discovering new music.
4.5 out of 5 Stars More »

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Apple Music For You
The For You section of Apple Music recommends artists and playlists.

While it's a little late to the game compared to well-established services like Spotify, Apple Music offers almost all the features you'd expect from a streaming music offering. Apple Music delivers virtually the entire iTunes Store library to your computer and iPhone for just $10/month. For now, Apple Music is rough—it has a lot of bugs that need to be fixed and experiences that need to be improved—but it's promising and is perhaps poised to be the best music service.

3.5 out of 5 Stars More »

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rdio for iphone

Rdio uses the same jukebox approach as Spotify, in which you search for music and listen to nearly any song you want. Rdio starts users with a six-month free trial, after which you need a $4.99 or $9.99/month subscription (the more expensive version adds support for iOS devices). Rdio has some music that Spotify doesn't (and vice versa) and a clean, modern interface that many people enjoy.
4 out of 5 Stars More »

iTunes Radio
iTunes Radio.

ITunes Radio brings radio-style streaming music right to your existing music library via integration with iTunes on Mac and PC and the Music app on iOS. Offering most of the features that Pandora does, but with a more generous skip limit (6 skips per hour per station) and no limits of free listening, it's a good start. However, right now it lacks a major feature to make it different from Pandora.
3 out of 5 Stars More »

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Xbox music
Xbox Musix copyright Microsoft

Microsoft has brought its Xbox Music service to the iPhone with this app. Unfortunately, it left a lot of the best features behind on the web and game console versions of the service. The app doesn't include any music discovery features, is plagued with too many playback errors, and buffers too often. The service may be good on other platforms, but on iPhone, it's far behind the pack.
2 out of 5 Stars More »

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Beats Music app
Beats Music copyright Beats Electronics

Beats has been discontinued by Apple and replaced by Apple Music

The newest entrant into this already-crowed field, Beats Music, is also the best. Beats Music takes the best features from its competitors—customized playlists from Songza, music discovery from Pandora, offline listening from Spotify and Rdio—and adds a well-designed, easy-to-use, powerful platform. There's no free option, but with its many features and smooth interface, Beats Music will be tough to top.
4.5 out of 5 Stars  More »

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mog for iphone

MOG was discontinued. It is now Beats Music

MOG is another jukebox-style offering along the lines of Spotify and Rdio. Consider this review incomplete for now: MOG was purchased by Beats Electronics (of Beats by Dre fame) in 2012 and will be relaunched as Beats Music in early 2014.
4 out of 5 Stars More »

twitter #music

Twitter has discontinued #music

Social media titan Twitter attempts to leverage its communications success into a sharing-focused music app with #music. Unfortunately, it doesn't really allow you to stream music—you need a Spotify or Rdio subscription for that—and doesn't provide strong music discovery or playlist features. A swing and a miss from Twitter.
1 out of 5 Stars More »

More to Come

Despite there already being some major players, new streaming music apps debut all the time. Apple Music is the most major new player to debut recently and is the one most likely to truly threaten Spotify's dominance. As new services come online, and as Spotify and Apple Music both mature, this list will be updated to show how they stack up and help you make a good choice.