Spotify brings radio feature to iOS, offers streaming to non-premium users

Swedish music streamer extraordinaire Spotify is updating its iOS app this morning with a key new feature. Radio, introduced late last year for the desktop version of the service, is making its way onto iPads and iPhones in the States for both premium and free users. As with its desktop counterpart, users can generate an unlimited number of Pandora / Slacker-like radio stations using artists, albums, songs and Spotify playlists. The social functionality that Spotify loves so much is intact as well, with both songs and radio stations appearing in friends' Facebook streams. And since the radio feature is available across Spotify's pages, you can make stations based on friends' playlists -- or you can just pick "Create a New Station" from the top of the Radio tab.

You can thumb up or thumb down tracks, with songs you dig populating a "Like From Radio" playlist, making those tracks accessible on different devices. Inter-device functionality also means that you can start a radio station on, say, your iPad and pick up where you left off by firing it up on your iPhone. Premium users get an unlimited number of song skips -- when asked how many skips free users get, Spotify simply told us that it would be "industry standard" (ie, the same number you get on competing services).

Asked when such functionality will be hitting Android handsets, the company told us, "we think it's core to the mobile experience, and we're looking to bring it to all of the major platforms in due time." In the meantime, iPhone and iPad owners can download the update today.

Update: Spotify dropped us a line to let us know that the update apparently isn't quite ready for prime time. Rather than actually dropping today, the latest version of the iOS app "will be available in the next few days."

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Spotify Launches Free Mobile Radio in the US

Starting today, Spotify users in the US can play for free on iPhone and iPad. The latest update to Spotify's iOS app includes the new radio feature, giving free users in the US access to an unlimited amount of music on the move. The update is now available for download in the App Store.

The new radio feature for iOS is seamlessly integrated into the Spotify service, creating an unmatched user experience of listening, discovering, saving and sharing music, from a catalog of more than 16 million songs.

Spotify users on iPhone and iPad can now:

Create limitless streaming radio stations from single songs, playlists, albums or artists
Create an unlimited number of stations and listen as long as they like
Save tracks to Spotify playlists - any song that users "like" will be saved, so they can find the songs later
Personalize stations in real time by "liking" tracks to hear similar music
Browse friends' playlists and create radio stations based on their tastes
Hear great new songs from Spotify's state-of-the-art recommendation engine, based on what millions of real people are listening to
Access a catalog of over 16 million tracks

"Our focus has always been on creating an amazing user experience," said Charlie Hellman, VP, Product at Spotify. "The radio feature we've added to our iPhone and iPad apps gives users the ability to discover, listen and save what they like on the go - all within one app - for free."

Premium users of the Spotify iOS app will continue to have an ad-free experience. Free users in the US will hear advertisements from the following launch partners: Chevrolet, Durex, Heineken, Jim Beam, Lipton Iced Tea, Macy's, McDonalds, Progressive, Red Bull, Taco Bell, Verizon Wireless, and Warner Bros – all of which are current Spotify advertisers.

The new Spotify radio feature will also be available to Premium users outside of the United States.