Apple makes progress with Ping

An iTunes tweak lets users interact with Apple's social-networking feature directly from the music player. It's a badly needed improvement, but Apple's got a lot more work to do.

Peter Kafka

Apple has made a small but important change to Ping that improves it considerably. It's not enough to make the much-maligned social network a real winner, but it's a good a start: An update to iTunes now allows you to interact with Ping directly from your music player, instead of having to make a visit to Ping itself.

So now you can recommend songs to your friends, and see the music they recommend, at the same you're actually listening to songs.

It's a such an obvious feature that it's hard to believe that Apple didn't include it in Ping's launch. But that just shows you how rough that launch has been.

Ping also doesn't track what you play, even though Apple's own "Genius" recommendation service does that (as do competitors like Last.fm). That could be quite a useful feature, given proper opt-in privacy options.

But most important is that Ping lives in a gated suburb that most of your friends never visit. If Apple is really serious about social, then it has to find a way to integrate Ping with Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of the networks your pals are already using. My hunch is that we'll see that eventually.