Napster app hits Apple iPhone, iPad

Napster is back – and it's on a handful of handsets powered by Apple's iOS 3 or higher.

Napster is seen on a PC screen. This week, Napster – once the dominant file-sharing service – arrived on Apple iPhone and iPad screens nationwide.

Remember Napster? The peer-to-peer music sharing service launched in 1999, and for a couple years, it attracted vast swaths of the music-buying public – so much so that the word Napster became synonymous with the demise of the traditional record store paradigm. Then the record industry hit Napster with a major league legal injunction, and the site changed hands a number of times before ending up under the control of Best Buy.

Now Napster is expanding again – this time to the Apple iPhone, Apple iPad, and Apple iPod Touch. This week, Napster released a media-streaming applications that gives users access to a library of more than 10 million songs. "You can save songs, playlists, and albums to your iPhone to enjoy when not connected and listen while you run other apps," Napster explained on its site.

The cost? Well, the app itself is free, and runs on any Apple handset powered by iOS 3 or higher. But the subscription to Napster starts at $5 a month. Not exactly dirt cheap, but not exactly exorbitantly expensive, either. Plus, with the $5 monthly membership comes a handful of features: You can build playlists, save a roster of the most-recently played songs, and listen to Napster MP3 files over iTunes.

Media streaming apps – including the highly-rated Pandora application – are increasingly popular among iPhone and iPad users. Earlier this summer, Netflix released its first comprehensive iPhone app, which allows users to stream videos and televisions programs from the Netflix library. The application is free; Netflix memberships start at nine bucks a month. The app works over Wi-Fi and 3G connections, and is available on the iPhone Touch.

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