The big news from the tech world this week is that Apple is in advanced talks to buy Dr Dre-backed headphone maker Beats in a deal said to be worth up to $3.2 billion (£1.89 billion). This may seem like a lot for some headphones – no matter how cool they are – but what's perhaps more interesting to Apple is the firm's online streaming service, Beats Music.
While not yet available in the UK, it's one of the latest entrants to an increasingly-crowded market – and one Apple has yet to really break into, despite having what you'd think would be the perfect launch platform in iTunes. So some analysts have suggested getting its hands on Beats' technology is the main driver for the deal.
And it may need all the help it can get, as there's a bewildering array of options out there for the keen music lover who wants to listen on the move. Whether you're a fan of Beethoven, the Beatles or Beyonce, it's easier than ever to find your favourite tracks. But how do you know which is the right one for you?
That's why we've put together some of our top suggestions for music streaming on your mobile.
The daddy of the sector, Spotify has been doing on-demand streaming longer than almost anyone, and has plenty of time to refine the concept. It's got the biggest subscriber base, which means it can offer a huge library of more than 20 million tracks, an easy-to-use interface and strong social features. For £10 a month, you get unlimited access across all your devices – and this covers pretty much anything you can name, from your PC and smartphone to your car.
Google Play Music All Access
Ignore the mouthful of a name, Google's entry into the streaming space offers all the refinement you'd expect from the web giant. It loses out slightly to Spotify on library size – a paltry 18 million – but it makes up for this by giving you the option to upload up to 20,000 of your own tracks, so you can listen to them anywhere. This locker is free, but for full access, including personalised recommendations and radio, it'll also ask for £10 a month.
For sheer size, France-based Deezer is hard to beat, with more than 30 million tracks available for streaming. It has the usual array of personalised radio stations and recommendations – and is currently offering its unlimited mobile app for just £4.99 a month – that's 50 per cent off its normal price. For UK customers it also has special offers if you have an EE 4G contract.
Perhaps Spotify's closest rival in terms of library size, price and capabilities, Rdio suffers slightly from a lower bitrate for its tracks. But it more than makes up for this with a clean user interface, great options for sharing an account with family members and strong integration with social media, so you can always share you new favourite with your Facebook friends.
A little different from the services about, Last.fm won't let you choose a specific track to play, but its personalised radio capabilities are sceond to none. As well as letting you choose stations by genre or artist, the software's algorithm – known as 'Scrobbler' – learns your tastes in music from what you listen to on services such as iTunes and Spotify to build a full – and uncannily accurate – picture of your ideal playlist. Like Spotify, its had a few years to perfect its service, while a recent deal with its rival means users also have access to Spotify's library as well.
Of course, you'll want the best experience when listening to your favourite tracks on the go, so once you've made your decision about which service – or services – to plump for, don't forget to check out our range of headphones to make sure you can enjoy it at the best quality.