The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office issued a new patent for Apple (NASDAQ:AAPL) on Thursday called "Playlist Configuration and Preview." The patent application highlights advanced features that could make Apple's future iTunes Radio service more customizable than Pandora (NYSE:P) and other streaming-music products in the space. However, these features are far less convenient for users compared to those currently offered by Pandora. This could be a problem for Apple as it attempts to poach listeners from rival online music services.

Easy does it
Pandora didn't capture the hearts of more than 70-million active monthly users by accident. People love online streaming music service because it offers a simple push-and-play way to listen to personalized radio stations. Yet, a new offering from Apple promises to do that and much more. Earlier this month, Apple unveiled its upcoming iTunes Radio service, which, similar to Pandora, will come in a free-to-use ad-supported version, as well as an ad-free version for paying subscribers.

The tech giant's new PCP patent includes myriad ways for users to better customize their streaming playlists. While Pandora allows listeners to rate songs with a thumbs up or down, Apple's iTunes Radio may allow users to specify what they do or don't like about a song selection. This feature would mean song lineups more attuned to your liking. However, this level of customization also demands more effort by the user, which could be daunting for those listeners who prefer the hassle-free interface offered by Pandora.

One of the more notable features shown in Apple's PCP patent include a way to view and modify upcoming songs in your queue -- a quality Pandora lacks. Moreover, users can share their playlists with other users, while also comparing an individual song's specific characteristics and metadata. This may be overcomplicating music streaming for people craving easy listening.

Still, there's no guarantee that the features outlined in this patent will make it into Apple's unreleased iTunes Radio service. Not all patent innovations translate into finished products. Not to mention, Apple filed the "Playlist Configuration and Preview" patent back in 2011. Until Apple officially releases iTunes Radio, listeners will have to make do with offerings that are more simple-minded from Pandora and others like it.