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iTunes Beats for Android? Apple leaks hit the right note.

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Michael Dwyer/AP/File

(Read caption) Beats Audio equipment is arranged for a photo next to an Apple laptop at Best Buy in Boston. Apple announced Wednesday, May 28, 2014, that it is acquiring Beats Electronics for $3 billion. Beats, the headphone and music streaming specialist, also brings the swagger of rapper Dr. Dre and recording impresario Jimmy Iovine.

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iTunes for Android?

Apple is reportedly building the Beats Music streaming service into its iTunes app with special engineers focused on an Android version of the hybrid app. The move would pit Apple directly against streaming music giants Spotify and Rdio, with potential for widespread appeal given the bi-operating system usability.

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Sounds harmonious.

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The report comes via 9to5Mac citing unnamed sources close to the matter. According to the sources, ever since Apple bought Beats Music streaming service, the tech company has been working to configure it into a paid streaming service that will be integrated into iOS, iTunes, and Apple TV. Given that Beats initially developed an Android app, Apple reportedly has a team of engineers working specifically on a version that is Android-friendly. This will mark the first ever in-house Apple app for Android.

Tough luck for Windows Phone and Web users, however – Apple apparently isn’t planning a new Microsoft or Web browser-friendly version of the app just yet. The original Beats Music app is still available for both.

The service will mix together users’ iTunes libraries and the array of Beats Music features. Users can search for songs within their own library, but also open up that search to any songs in the Beats Music library, and similarly weave together songs from both sources in users' personal libraries. There will be pre-made playlists for different moods and activities, as well as the resurgence of a social networking aspect in which users can follow friends and artists.

9to5Mac added, however, that not everything is jiving with the project just yet. Sources say Apple executives frustrated some long-time employees by putting Beats engineers in key positions. There has also been some confusion with the direction of the integration and app, which apparently has led to delays in release. Now sources say the app is likely to launch at Apple’s annual Worldwide Developer Conference in June. Previously, it was said to be ready to launch by March.

Perhaps the bigger question is whether Apple can compete in the busy streaming music game. Though iTunes is certainly a successful Apple venture (last summer Tim Cook said the service has 800 million accounts – though he didn’t mention how many are active) it hasn’t always whistled a happy tune. Ping, its music social network initiative, notoriously flopped, and the music download service recently got flack for releasing a U2 album to every user – whether the user wanted it or not.

But Apple is ready to win back any lost customers with something that is music to any ear: lower prices. The service is hoping to offer a subscription service for $7.99 per month. Talks with music services are still ongoing, but if this new service can undercut Spotify, Apple could have a hit on its hands. 


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