How Do You Stream Music on Your iPhone?

Outside storing music in the iPhone's built in iPod app, there are a variety of ways to simply stream the audio you want to listen to:

  • Streaming internet radio/subscription apps are the obvious place to start. Slacker [iTunes link], Pandora [iTunes link], Pocket Tunes [iTunes link], Spotify [iTunes link]... the list goes on an on. Some are limited to the US (or just slightly beyond the US) or Europe, but those who have them in their area often swear by them. Some of these also provide local storage so you can keep some of the songs on your device for those occasions when a Wi-Fi or 3G isn't available.
  • Musical games, spearheaded by Tap Tap Revenge [iTunes link] and Rock Band have shown that users are just as willing -- sometimes even more willing -- to buy songs for sport as they are for simple enjoyment. With in-app purchases, some of these games have even become music stores unto themselves.
  • Musical apps, where an artist or group wants to create something more than just a song file or even iTunes LP, have also become fairly common on the App Store. These can range significantly in content and presentation, but they can and do bring the music.
  • Storage apps, like MobileMe iDisk,, DropBox, etc. can give you access to the music you keep on the cloud. Just like they can view your documents and other files, they can typically play any supported audio format you've loaded them up with.
  • Mobile Safari, the iPhone and iPod touch (and soon, iPad) web browser can play any music format Apple supports. Just tap on a link and the Quicktime player pops up, buffers, and plays your audio. This includes audio you've stored on your own web-enabled server setups. And it's one of the few apps that's allowed to keep playing in the background -- when it doesn't run out of RAM or lose connection or otherwise glitch-out.
  • iTunes app, while it will only give you 30 seconds of music for sampling, will stream full-length podcasts if you tap on the title instead of the download button. If you prefer talking and creative commons to the latest premium hits, it's a surprisingly useful option. And it will play in the background just like Safari (and potentially fail, just like Safari).

We're all hoping iPhone 4.0 addresses that pesky "no streaming internet music while using other apps" multitasking miss we've suffered through lo these last 3 years, but in the meantime -- what are you using to stream your music on your iPhone? Any tips and or tricks you can share?

Rene Ritchie

Rene Ritchie is one of the most respected Apple analysts in the business, reaching a combined audience of over 40 million readers a month. His YouTube channel, Vector, has over 90 thousand subscribers and 14 million views and his podcasts, including Debug, have been downloaded over 20 million times. He also regularly co-hosts MacBreak Weekly for the TWiT network and co-hosted CES Live! and Talk Mobile. Based in Montreal, Rene is a former director of product marketing, web developer, and graphic designer. He's authored several books and appeared on numerous television and radio segments to discuss Apple and the technology industry. When not working, he likes to cook, grapple, and spend time with his friends and family.