How to Use the Radio Feature in iOS Music App

Listen to 24/7 live radio or create your own stations

Retro outdated portable stereo boombox radio receiver with cassette recorder from circa late 70s front aquamarine wall background.

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Picking the songs you want to listen to in Apple Music is great, but sometimes you want the variety and means of discovering new music that radio offers. In that case, you need to use Radio in the Music app on your iPhone or iPad.

Apple's streaming radio service, called Radio, is a core feature of the desktop version of iTunes, but it's also built into the Music app on iOS devices. Because of that, any iPhone, iPad, or iPod Touch running iOS 8 or higher can use Radio to stream music and discover new bands. As with Pandora, you can create stations in Radio based on songs you like.

Information in this article applies to iPhones, iPads, and iPod Touch devices running iOS 8 through iOS 12.

How to Listen to Beats 1

You don't need a subscription to Apple Music to listen to Beats 1, Apple's 24/7 live radio station as well as other stations. To start listening:

  1. Open the Music app.

  2. Click the Radio tab at the bottom of the screen.

  3. Tap the Beats 1 List Live at the top of the screen to listen to what's playing right now.

  4. Scroll across to select from recorded Beats 1 programming.

    Radio interface in iPad Music app
  5. Scroll down to the Featured Stations section to discover other free radio stations you can listen to.

  6. Tap Radio Stations in the More to Explore section at the bottom of the screen to open an extensive list of music categories. Tap any genre to see a selection of free radio stations.

    Music app Radio featured stations

How to Create a New Radio Station on iPhone

While the radio stations in Radio have something for everyone, Apple Music subscribers can create their own stations too. You don't do that from within the Radio section of the Music app, though. You do it by starting with a song. Here's how:

  1. Locate a song in the Music Library that you want to use as the basis for a new station.

  2. Tap the song to start playing it.

  3. Tap the play bar at the bottom of the screen to reveal the full-screen music playback interface for that song.

  4. Tap the three dots (...) at the bottom of the screen.

  5. In the menu that pops up, tap Create Station.

    Steps in iTunes for creating a personalized radio station

    The app creates the new station, although nothing on the screen lets you know this, which is confusing. After the first song plays, or if you skip it, the next song you hear is from the new radio station you just created. The app selects other songs similar to the one you picked for the station to play.

  6. As your station plays, scroll down on the full-screen music playback interface to see the next song under Up Next. Wait for it to play or tap it to go directly to the next song.

  7. Manage your station by tapping the three dots at the bottom of the screen while a song is playing and select Love or Dislike in the pop-up screen. You'll see a confirmation that your radio station will contain more music like the song that is playing (if you tap Love) or less like it (if you tap Dislike.)

    Indicating Likes and Dislikes for a song

Tap Radio at the bottom of the Music app to see your new station in the Recently Played section.

You might chose a song for which Radio doesn't have the rights to use as part of a customized radio station, and you are notified of this. In this case, use a different, but similar, song to make your station.

Playing Songs in Radio on iPhone

Playing songs in Radio on the iPhone is like playing any music from your library. The buttons for play/pause, volume, and AirPlay are all the same. So, if you're familiar with using the Music app, you already know what to do in Radio.

Playback controls in iPhone Music app

When the full-screen playback interface is present, your options for controlling Radio are:

  • Playback: You can play and pause the station using the play/pause control.
  • Skip Songs: To skip ahead to the next song in the station, tap the forward button. You can also go back and listen to past songs in the order they were played.
  • Add a Song to Your Music Library: If you like a song enough that you want to add it to your library, tap the + icon.
  • Share Station or Song: Think you know someone else who would enjoy this station or just the song you're currently listening to? Tap ... and tap either Share Station or Share Song. Then, choose how you want to share it.

There's a lot more to know when it comes to sharing music from your iOS device. To learn more, check out how to share Apple Music.

How to Edit or Delete Stations in Radio on iPhone

After you create a few stations, you may want to edit some of your existing stations or delete ones you don't listen to anymore. Strangely enough, you can't. You used to be able to edit stations Pandora-style by changing names, adding more songs or musicians to the station to mix up the type of music you heard, and more. That option is gone now.

So, too, is the ability to delete stations. Stations don't take up storage space on your iPhone; they just show up in the Radio interface. It's a little weird not to be able to delete a station, but it doesn't cause any problems.

Using the Like and Dislike button liberally is about the only way you can "edit" a radio station currently.

Want to use Radio on a Mac instead on an iPhone or iPad? Check out how to use Apple Music radio in iTunes.