Apple iPhone and iPad users around the world might be making their way back to radio this week, as the big A launched its own live on-demand radio service, letting people in with music and interviews in a 24 hour live streaming service.
But users of this service need to be aware that just because it says “radio” in the name, that’s not what you’re getting.
Rather, Apple’s “Beats 1 Radio” is like radio in the format it has taken, but this comes down as a download to your device, Mac, or PC (via iTunes) only, just like all other downloads from streaming services.
That’s not so different from the services currently out there that stream live radio services, with TuneIn one such service, offering radio broadcasts from around the world.
The chief difference, however, is that Apple’s Beats radio is only streaming digitally, whereas most of TuneIn’s services likely come from live broadcasts of actual radio stations.
Neither of these services, however, use the radio found in your phone, with phone-based radio pickup usually working with the headphones as an antenna. Instead, Beats (and TuneIn) have you download information from the web to listen in.
Testing Beats this week against a data tracker, we found Beats 1 Radio downloaded roughly 45MB per hour when used over 4G, a fact we tested with Telstra’s 4GX service in Sydney’s CBD.
While 45MB per hour might not seem like much, if you leave it running all day, this will add up, with two hours killing almost 100MB, and a full 24 hours of Beats eating through 1GB of data.
Keep this in mind if you’re running Beats 1 all the time, because while it won’t make much of a dent on a 200GB or unlimited broadband plan at home, the 500MB to 5GB plans we’re all using on our mobiles are where this could be problematic, resulting in a new form of radio-based bill shock.