Review

Ping! iTunes goes social, Neowin goes mouse on

Just hours ago, Apple announced their new "Ping" social network, along with the latest update to iTunes. The software update has gone live, and Neowin has given the new social network a quick testing. While the service is still in its infancy, and therefore doesn’t have a whole lot to look at, this early look does give a nice sneak peek at what’s to come as more and more iTunes users sign up for the service.

Registering is pretty straightforward - just select “Ping” from the iTunes sidebar, log into your iTunes account, and create a basic profile. It then gives you a chance to “like” some of your music - it seems to auto populate with some music you’ve recently purchased, although the music it selected for me wasn’t quite what I expected. It chose two songs for me, from the two most recent albums I purchased, but there was nothing particularly special about them - their play count wasn’t higher than anything else, and I hadn’t rated them.

After setting up your profile and liking some music, you’re presented with a very simple “Welcome to Ping” screen. You’re given three immediate options: “Search for People or Artists”, “Invite Your Friends by Email”, and “Connect iTunes Ping with Facebook.” The third option is probably your best bet - it only found two of my friends from Facebook on Ping, but I began the process within an hour of the service launching. I could follow these friends without any issue, and they popped up in my “Recent Activity” feed instantly.

There are two kinds of people you can follow on Ping: people and artists. Facebook is great for finding your friends on Ping, but artists will most likely be found using the “Artists We Recommend You Follow” section or “Search for People or Artists.” Again, the service is so new that there’s very few artists to follow right now anyway - only 14 are recommended for “me,” and one of my colleagues seems to have the exact same recommendations. The content will - likely - fill up over the next few days.

The “Recent Activity” feed offers the equivalent of Facebook’s “News Feed,” but, of course, for music. You can see who started following who, and also recent purchases. In my case, one of the people I started following had just bought an album, and that showed up within “Recent Activity.” At the click of a button, I could preview or buy the album.

One thing that is notably missing, however, is the ability to use the network from outside iTunes. Having a social network tied to an application is a different approach - although Microsoft did also try it with the Zune Social - but if this is going to be a true success, there needs to be a way to access the network from outside the Apple ecosystem. An online, in-browser interface would be the obvious solution here, but there’s no hint of that here yet. It would be nice if it also tied into Facebook in some way beyond grabbing your friends list.

Also, it appears that iTunes ping is not yet active on the iPad, iPhone and iPod Touch; however, that is expected to go live in the near future.

Overall, it’s difficult to judge whether or not iTunes Ping will become the mega social network Apple wants it to be; however, many are already calling it a “MySpace killer.” At this point, it’s really too early to judge, but by the looks of it, the service could become a great way to share your music taste amongst your group of friends - so long as your friends are happy using iTunes to do it. 

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Back to my comment about PingChat! which is an iPhone app originally called Ping! (now available on Android and BlackBerry). Earlier this year it mysteriously got renamed.

Here are tweets from @PingChat from yesterday and today that reference the name of their app:

"Oh lord - anyone watching the Apple Keynote? Specifically the new social network?"
Source: http://twitter.com/PingChat/status/22727443001

"@tewede We have spoken with Ping the golf company LONGGG AGO"
Source: http://twitter.com/PingChat/status/22737085304

"@Marshalus @LJohn1992 We will be PingChat! Now and always."
Source: http://twitter.com/PingChat/status/22800133142

"@Marshalus lmfao let's hope that never happens. Although...Apple doesn't own the Ping trademark - they are leasing from Ping the golf ppl."
Source: http://twitter.com/PingChat/status/22800506999

"@crubiobrbz Install the newest version of PingChat! in the app store. Sorry for the confusion - we went through some name drama lol"
Source: http://twitter.com/PingChat/status/22802171295

I really like the new iTunes, for me the program is a lot more responsive. I guess it depends on the persons computer....

NoLiMiT06 said,
I really like the new iTunes, for me the program is a lot more responsive. I guess it depends on the persons computer....

I agree, there is marked improvement of speed

i think its an advertising piece of **** monkies. look at related artists.. hmm..sure i like them.. ahem. no. go away.

Am I the only one who misses the list view with album arts on ALL the albums? I looks horrible seeing some albums and some don't!

0sm3l said,
Am I the only one who misses the list view with album arts on ALL the albums? I looks horrible seeing some albums and some don't!
View > Always Show Artwork

speedstr3789 said,
"A well coded piece of software is more likely to be bigger for it to run quicker."
I'm not a coder but this makes no sense

Could be true. You don't have to run every line of code when you want to do something, just specific functions.

Bengal34 said,

Could be true. You don't have to run every line of code when you want to do something, just specific functions.


Yeah, but it still doesn't make sense... that's why software is programmed modularly so that you have one piece of code that can be used for (sometimes several) specific functions... and it is simply called when needed... instead of repeating functions, etc. throughout the application.

speedstr3789 said,
"A well coded piece of software is more likely to be bigger for it to run quicker."
I'm not a coder but this makes no sense

Most of the size doesn't come from code, but from internal resources (images, icons, localizations, etc.). On OS X, the binary itself is 30MB (still large since it's not Cocoa and therefore doesn't share a lot of the system's frameworks), but the whole iTunes app is 146.6MB.

You'd be surprised just how much localizations, in particular, take up. If you dumped them, you'd have a much, much smaller app.

Seems interesting but not sure I'll use it much as I don't spend much time in iTunes. I updated my 3GS to iOS 4.1 GM and the ping icon is there in iTunes now.

I think it's not that bad... XD Just can't find anybody on it. And by the way, why the hell is Lady Gaga and Katy Perry in my featured artists list ??!!?!?!?!?!

Well I don't think anybody dislikes the service per se, it has a lot of potential if implemented well.
Zune social is ahead of Ping but unfortunately is still limited to US.

okay, folks, the thing is... you don't HAVE to use it. Simple as that. But nice to hear from every single one of you how much you dislike it.

hplusf said,
I think the name they've chosen is terrible and the icon is quite ugly too.

The icon is indeed a bit naff

Oh God, Allah, Insert random blasphemous name, not ANOTHER social network...couldn't they just, integrate it with something that already exists?

Oh Apple how I love thee... *cough* I created a profile and all that junk then went to try and connect to facebook and I get no links anywhere. Where in the pictures it shows it should be it just isn't there. When going to the people page where it should say under the search "you can also add through facebook or email".. All it shows is email... was it buggy and they already removed the feature? lol

csfeist said,
Oh Apple how I love thee... *cough* I created a profile and all that junk then went to try and connect to facebook and I get no links anywhere. Where in the pictures it shows it should be it just isn't there. When going to the people page where it should say under the search "you can also add through facebook or email".. All it shows is email... was it buggy and they already removed the feature? lol

they pulled Facebook connectivity at the last minute. Some got through, some see the feature but it does nothing, most will not see it.

CyberDragon777 said,
Hm...
IPhone = Cisco IP phone
iOS = Cisco IOS
Ping = ping network diagnostic command

Apple is soooo original

And people thought Bing was a bad name? Yet most of those who said that will support Ping's name?

The name doesn't even make sense.

"Check out my fav songs on Ping"... "Are you Pinging him?? (Ping-stalking)"... "I can't believe Miley Cyrus showed up on my Ping".

Worst name ever.

andrewbares said,

"Check out my fav songs on Ping"... "Are you Pinging him?? (Ping-stalking)"... "I can't believe Miley Cyrus showed up on my Ping".

Worst name ever.


Ping Me!

CyberDragon777 said,
Hm...
IPhone = Cisco IP phone
iOS = Cisco IOS
Ping = ping network diagnostic command

Apple is soooo original

Apple - Apple Corp!!
Ping - Think Golf ;-)
If they were made to surrender all their names, they would have iNothing!

so much for all the negative comments shot at zune social when it launched. welcome to the new age apple! now who's copying who?

thefonz said,
I use facebook like everyone else on the planet thanks.

I agree - this service faces the same challenge as Google Buzz does/did.

I liked the features of Zune Social. It was really cool to find music through people with similar tastes. Hopefully this will provide a similar experience.

Shadrack said,
I liked the features of Zune Social. It was really cool to find music through people with similar tastes. Hopefully this will provide a similar experience.

Me too man, It's got a while to go until it can catch upto Zune Social though imo

jafoman said,

Anyone use PingChat! on the iPhone? It used to be called Ping! I haven't confirmed this yet but it's pretty obvious why they were forced to change their app name.

http://mashable.com/2009/10/08...e-to-iphone-text-messaging/
http://appadvice.com/appnn/2010/05/pingchat-2/

I asked the creators of PingChat! if they renamed the app because of Apple... No response yet:

http://twitter.com/CrisMcRae/status/22757357571

Huh, interesting. Bet they're about to get a lot of publicity.

jafoman said,

Anyone use PingChat! on the iPhone? It used to be called Ping! I haven't confirmed this yet but it's pretty obvious why they were forced to change their app name.

http://mashable.com/2009/10/08...e-to-iphone-text-messaging/
http://appadvice.com/appnn/2010/05/pingchat-2/

I asked the creators of PingChat! if they renamed the app because of Apple... No response yet:

http://twitter.com/CrisMcRae/status/22757357571

I always assumed they changed it to pingchat becaus ping alone already sounds weird (especially for everybody familiar with the ICMP ping...) But ping says they're replying every question thrown at them today on twitter

andrewbares said,
Apple had 3 years to copy this, and the Zune Social is still better?

What's a zune?

(I'm speaking as a non-US user here)

andrewbares said,
Apple had 3 years to copy this, and the Zune Social is still better?

I'm afraid you are dead wrong about the "better" part. Ping! is actually better than Zune Social.

andrewbares said,
Apple had 3 years to copy this, and the Zune Social is still better?

It's a pity I can't get the Zune software on OS X. I love Zune on Windows, but I don't have a choice in what I use on OS X.

LiquidSolstice said,

You wish. A)It just came out, calm your fanboy hormones, and B) Zune Social has been out for AGES now.

It's good to know that Apple finally gives a hoot about the music, rather than the anal rapage of apps.

Wait...because ZS has been out LONGEr, it's automatically better? Without any real reasons, that's what I'm assuming you're trying to say.

joep1984 said,

Wait...because ZS has been out LONGEr, it's automatically better? Without any real reasons, that's what I'm assuming you're trying to say.

I don't see where he tried to say that.

LiquidSolstice said,

Zune Social is MUCH much better.


And why? I don't think Zune Social allows you to follow artists in the same way.

Techno_Funky said,
Is it me or does it look like they ripped last.fm, facebook and twitter

Well, to be fair, they even likened it to Facebook and Twitter in their presentation.

Techno_Funky said,
Is it me or does it look like they ripped last.fm, facebook and twitter

I was just thinking that it looked exactly like Last.FM, although they can be forgiven given that they do the exact same thing.

Techno_Funky said,
Is it me or does it look like they ripped last.fm, facebook and twitter

No, it looks like they just completely ripped Zune.

The whole tech technology is brain dead before it even gets started! You can't do anything with the music you have on your system. Only the stuff online = instant fail!

Did anyone notice the size is now 72 MB smaller than itunes 9.2.1 (93 MB)? May be itunes 10 is less bloated.

satus said,
Did anyone notice the size is now 72 MB smaller than itunes 9.2.1 (93 MB)? May be itunes 10 is less bloated.

I did

satus said,
Did anyone notice the size is now 72 MB smaller than itunes 9.2.1 (93 MB)? May be itunes 10 is less bloated.

Is it more responsive and faster?

Panda X said,
Is it more responsive and faster?

On Mac OS X its a bit better than it was before; the slow grinding pace of converting to Cocoa I hope that'll result in something appearing next year.

satus said,
Did anyone notice the size is now 72 MB smaller than itunes 9.2.1 (93 MB)? May be itunes 10 is less bloated.

A well coded piece of software is more likely to be bigger for it to run quicker. Of course its not always the case, and the reduction in size could be all sorts such as removing images or whatnot so its hard to tell. Also this is the download size not the install size.

But anyway, if you're downloading a piece of software that is designed to download music at a few MB each time, I'd like to think your internet is capable of downloading iTunes either way, surely no-one would use iTunes just because they like it to catalogue their music?

Panda X said,

Is it more responsive and faster?


Well for me it is, I tried it on my old desktop pc in which even transferring purchases did take quite a long, even with 9.2, but I was surprised how fast it did the app transfers and the back up...still hating the icon (something a kid would draw), but I do love how all the buttons inside the app now look.