The Best Streaming Music Apps for iPhone

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.

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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 »

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 »