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Apple has finally rolled out a much anticipated update to its iTunes digital media app today.

(I say much anticipated mainly because a new version of iTunes is the precursor to today’s iOS 7 roll out for the iPhone and iPad.)

This iTunes version 11.1 marks the launch of Apple’s new streaming music service iTunes Radio, which is similar in scope to what Pandora offers. It’s also probably the biggest addition in the update. It is an ad-supported Internet radio service that anyone can listen to for free. And those that already subscribe to Apple’s iTunes Match service can use iTunes Radio without advertising. There are 250 pre-set radio stations available, but you can also create your own custom stations to match your musical preferences.

The update also includes a Genius Shuffle feature, which is kind of a revision of iTunes’ Genius Mixes. Basically, iTunes will scan your entire library of music and create a station based on songs that go well together. I’m guessing this is pretty hit-or-miss in terms of creating a decent station, but at the very least it means you won’t be cycling through songs you absolutely hate (thus avoiding the problem I have with Pandora, where a random Jack Johnson track will pop up in my “morning upbeat hiphop & folk metal” station.)

Another cool thing iTunes 11.1 has is the ability to create custom stations from podcasts (Podcast Stations). This actually seems pretty useful and is something that might actually get me to cycle through my queue of new podcasts on a weekly basis.

The iTunes 11.1 update should roll out to everyone shortly. However, anyone who can’t wait to play with the new software can download it directly from Apple’s website right now.

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