Apple launches iTunes Radio streaming music service to compete with Pandora

As widely expected, Apple (s AAPL) announced its own streaming music service at WWDC in San Francisco Monday. The service, dubbed iTunes Radio, will offer consumers a Pandora-like personalized streaming experience and comes with a free, ad-supported tier as well as a premium offering for ad-free streaming for anyone subscribing to iTunes Match, which costs $25 per year.

The service highlights songs trending on Twitter, which is similar to Twitter’s own music app, as well as offers access to themed radio playlists. Users are also be able to create their own stations based on genres as well as artists. Prominently featured during playback of any song is a link to buy the songs via iTunes.

iTunes Radio will be part of iOS 7, which will come to end users this fall. The service will also be available through iTunes desktop apps on Mac OS and Windows, as well as on Apple TV, but availability will be restricted to the United States.

It’s worth noting that Apple’s new streaming service doesn’t offer full access to whole albums in the way Spotify or other premium subscription services do; instead, consumers will likely be restricted to the times that they can play songs from the same artist as well as the times songs can be skipped. However, Apple didn’t go into any of these details during the WWDC keynote.

There have been rumors for months that Apple was going to get into the music streaming business, but reports indicated that it took the company longer than expected to sign contracts for the necessary licenses. However, Apple was apparently able to get all the major players on board just in time for WWDC, signing up Sony at the end of last week.