Apple’s Social Network ‘Ping’ Under the Hood

Blog, Digital Music, Internet, Social Networks, Technology

Another day and another new social network. I’m beginning to lose count to be honest. Still, a day after Steve Jobs’ annoucement of ‘Ping’ the new social network incorporated into iTunes 10 it went live and I’ve gone straight in and had a look.

When I first heard about it, I was a bit skeptical. Spotify had introduced their own social networking features recently and to be honest it works because it’s well incorporated into Facebook – there’s no need to set up additional profiles or add friends, you just have to link accounts. It was clear that this wouldn’t be the case with ‘Ping’ and quite how the public will react to having a new place to ‘like’ artists and albums will be interesting indeed. To join ‘Ping’ you have to upgrade to iTunes 10. Once you have done this, you’ll see the link for ‘Ping’ just below ‘iTunes Store’ in the left hand column.

Welcome to Ping!

Turn it on!

Click ‘Turn on Ping’ and you’re ready! You’re then taken to a page where you need to start building your profile. As you can see from the screen-shots below, there isn’t too much information to fill out. Your profile only displays basic information and a selection tracks you like, displaying the album artwork for these. A good feature (and face saving one too) is the ability to manually manage which album covers get displayed. I’ll be honest, I have Leona Lewis for school purposes, I’d never crank it up in the car so I won’t be having her album cover on my profile thanks very much!

Enter your Details on Ping

Enter some basic details...

Then choose some music

Then choose your favourite albums...

Once you’ve finished setting up your profile, Ping will give you a selection of artists and ordinary people to follow. Their artist list is embarrassingly small at the time of writing… they’ll need to get more artists involved as soon as possible to make it a more worthwhile experience.  If this isn’t for you, you can just get stuck in by browsing the iTunes store and ‘like’ particular albums or rate and review any of their products. Any such activity will show up in the feed on your Ping profile.

Setting up Ping is easy to do and relatively quick but there does seem to be key features missing. Firstly, there really needs to be some sort of ‘share’ function so you can post a link to your profile on Facebook, Twitter, MySpace etc… Currently, you can only invite your friends by e-mail. This isn’t particularly practical and I certainly don’t warm to the idea of typing everyone’s e-mail addresses out. Secondly, it’s missing a ‘most listened to’ module of some sort. All you know at the moment is very little details about each user. How about listing particular songs or more specific recommendations? If Ping is really about sharing tastes and making conversation, then this really is a key feature that’s been left out.

Thirdly, it should be a lot easier to find friends on Ping. Search by e-mail address or having a username type system would bring it into line with other social networks. Finally, I posted my profile picture on Ping over an hour ago and it’s still being processed. Is Uncle Steve checking each photo himself?

I much prefer Spotify’s social networking model – however Ping isn’t too bad, but really needs some more work before it catches on.

P.S. Isn’t the new iTunes icon just disgusting?

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