iOS 6.1 Hidden Buttons Hint At Apple Radio Feature

Two unused radio buttons found in jailbroken iPads running iOS 6.1 may hint at Apple’s rumored music streaming service.

The two buttons look similar to the radio icon Apple uses on the desktop iTunes app for streaming internet radio stations. No iOS devices currently support internet radio streaming without the use of a third-party app. The buttons may not refer to the same feature, however.

9To5Mac notes that iOS labels both buttons as “Buy” which could hint at users buying a music streaming service similar to Pandora or Spotify. Reports last year claimed that Apple planned such a “Radio” service for a launch sometime in the first quarter of 2013. Apple could prove those rumors true with a launch of such a service before the end of March 2013.

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In order to launch such a service Apple would need new deals with the major record labels, which reports said Apple was working on. There were no other reports from the meetings since the start of 2013. It’s unclear if talks stalled, or if Apple managed to make a deal with the companies.

So far the radio icons are only present on the iPad. That could mean that Apple plans to roll the feature out the iPad users first, or it could just mean that Apple didn’t feel the need to include the button in iOS 6.1 for iPhones and iPod touches.

A music streaming service built into iOS could threaten Pandora, Spotify, Rdio and other similar services. Many of those services have free versions, however. If Apple’s service is paid-only on mobile devices the free services may have nothing to worry about.

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Users will likely prefer the free music streaming services paired with music they previously bought over paid streaming services. Spotify and Pandora do have a number of paid users, but more users prefer to use those services for free instead.

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