Apple’s streaming service will likely offer social features, Music app integration

At WWDC, which is set to take place in San Francisco from June 8 to 12, the Cupertino firm is expected to introduce its first music streaming service.

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An employee stands in front of the Apple flagship store on 5th Avenue in New York

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According to 9to5Mac, the new platform will be called Apple Music and will include a social networking component for recording artists and their fans.

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Citing industry sources briefed on the project, the website claims Apple Music will allow artists to announce upcoming concerts and events, share exclusive content or promote other artists. This Artists Activity feed, which users will have the option of disabling at any time, is somewhat reminiscent of Ping, the mini social network added to iTunes in 2010, which allowed artists to share their own music and music they liked. The feature was removed in 2012 due to a general lack of enthusiasm for the concept.

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Apple could integrate its new streaming service directly into an update to the Music app for iOS. Early screenshots from iOS 8.4 beta, currently available to developers only, show the app’s new design and features, including the ability to customize playlists with cover pictures. The new app also allows users to easily toggle between the library, playlists and iTunes Radio by swiping right or left.

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The supposed Apple Music platform is also expected to be available on Mac OS and Android. Subscriptions will likely start at $9.99, positioning the service in line with Spotify, Deezer and Google Music.

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Announced and delayed multiple times, the new platform will likely allow users to create their own playlists and to store their own music in the cloud. The platform will likely be a revised version of Beats Music, the music streaming service launched in early 2014 with access to over 20 million songs, adapted to the Apple ecosystem. The project is among the results of Apple’s $3 billion acquisition of Beats Music and Beats Electronics in 2014.

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The project is expected to shake up a market currently dominated by Spotify, which boasts over 60 million active users worldwide, including 15 million paid subscribers. In the US, revenues from streaming services surpassed those of record sales in 2014 for the first time, according to the RIAA.