iPad to get streaming radio tunes, hidden iOS icons suggest

The cryptic icons show what looks like an 'add to radio' icon.

The iPad could be about to get streaming music, a hidden icon found within the company's iOS code suggests.

The 'radio' icons were discovered buried inside the code for Apple's tablet, 9to5Mac reports, and were revealed when the tablet was jailbroken, and its iOS 6.1 code put under the microscope.

The icons (which you can see above) were found inside the Music app, and aren't present in the iPhone's code.

The true function of the icons are a mystery of course, but the radio antenna suggests that Apple is preparing some kind of radio service for its tablet, whereby music is streamed to the device over the Internet, randomly cycling through tracks it thinks you'll like à la Last.fm, or Spotify's radio service.

The icons file names are labelled 'buy', 9to5Mac says, which implies these buttons will help you purchase tracks you find while zipping through streaming tunes. That should make Apple's accountants -- and the record companies -- very happy indeed.

Rumours of Apple-scented music streaming have been swirling for ages. At the end of last year, the more prominent placement of a radio button in the new iTunes 11 software was similarly said to suggest an incoming radio service.

Apple turned the music biz on its head by popularising paid-for downloads via iTunes, and currently lets you hoard your own music online using iTunes Match. Would you like to see the iPhone-maker turn its hand to streaming? Or should that be left to companies like Spotify? Let me know in the comments, or on our Facebook wall.

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