Apple gives Rhapsody green light on iPhone

Music service streams 64Kbps-quality tracks, but desktop users get 128Kbps

RealNetworks yesterday launched its Rhapsody music-streaming application for the iPhone and iPod Touch, after what the company said was a "smooth process" of back-and-forth with Apple.

Apple's approval of Rhapsody marks the first time the company has allowed an on-demand music streaming subscription-based service on its iconic iPhone in the U.S.

The application, which is a free download, lets Rhapsody customers listen to any of the service's 8-million-plus tracks the service offers, call up saved albums and tune into any of Rhapsody's ready-to-go playlists.

Users can stream music to both the iPhone and the iPod Touch via a Wi-Fi connection; iPhone users can also connect via AT&T's EDGE and 3G data networks in the U.S. Only people who subscribe to the $US14.99-per-month Rhapsody to Go plan can use the iPhone/iPod Touch application, however.

Customers paying $US12.99 per month for the Rhapsody Unlimited plan are ineligible.

RealNetworks expects to ship a second edition of the software by the end of the year that will allow users to cache tracks on the iPhone or iPod Touch for later offline playback. Rhapsody to Go already supports that functionality on some Windows Media Player-based devices from vendors such as SanDisk and Philips.

"That's definitely our intent," said RealNetworks' spokesman Ryan Luckin today.

"We're also working on audio improvements, and hard at work to bring Rhapsody to other platforms. We'd like to bring the same thing to Android phones, for example," he said, referring to the Google operating system that some handset makers have adopted.

Rhapsody streams 64Kbps-quality tracks to the iPhone and iPod Touch, half the audio quality of the 128Kbps-encoded tracks that the service streams to subscribers on the desktop.

"That's a trade-off," Luckin acknowledged, noting that higher-quality tracks put a greater burden on AT&T's wireless network when iPhone owners aren't within range of a wireless hot spot.

To tempt others to try the service, RealNetworks is offering a seven-day trial that allows full access to Rhapsody's library.

Because of hardware limitations, Rhapsody won't play music in the background while the iPhone or iPod Touch is being used for other tasks, such as browsing or making phone calls.

During Computerworld 's brief testing, Rhapsody automatically dropped out when an incoming phone call rang, then popped back up after the call was completed.

Although some were expecting Apple to block Rhapsody from the iPhone based on the company's treatment of Google Voice, the process went pretty smoothly, said Luckin. "Apple came back with requests for a few minor tweaks," he said, "but from there it was approved. Apple was very responsive."

From submission to approval was less than a month, Luckin said.

Other developers, however, haven't had as easy a time as RealNetworks. Google's integrated telephone service, Google Voice, for example, remains in limbo. Last month, in a reply to an FCC inquiry launched at the end of July, Apple denied that it had rejected Google Voice and said it was still "pondering" the submission.

Previously, Apple has told developers that it rejected their applications for the iPhone because they duplicated one or more built-in features of the iPhone or the iPod Touch.

Both devices link to Apple's iTunes music store to download tracks, and they play tunes synchronized from a user's collection on a Mac or PC. However, Apple does not offer a subscription-based music streaming service.

Rhapsody for the iPhone and iPod can be downloaded directly to the devices, or to a Mac or PC, then pushed to the smartphone or music player at the next sync session.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags ApplerealnetworksmusiciPhoneRhapsodymusic playersiphone apps

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Gregg Keizer

Computerworld (US)
Show Comments

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles


PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?