No, it won’t be MacSpace or anything like that, but Apple is reportedly working on some kind of software application that will consolidate all your existing social network accounts into one place. It’s an even more interesting rumor now that Facebook has acquired FriendFeed, the service which previously seemed on top in terms of social network aggregation.
The news comes via a report from The Boy Genius Report today detailing further iTunes 9 rumors. A few days ago, iTunes 9 rumors began swirling on the strength of a source talking to BGR about upcoming features for the next major revision of Apple’s media management software. Now, there’s talk that part of that update will be a multi-network client that allows you to share your musical tastes with your contacts.
It should be made clear that, according to BGR at least, this won’t be just a built-in feature of iTunes itself, but will actually be a standalone application that includes as one of its own features iTunes music sharing via social media. It also offers the ability to simultaneously change your status across networks and to “connect with your friends’ friends,” the meaning of which isn’t exactly clear.
There’s one precedent that at least suggests that this rumor could be accurate. I’m talking about iChat, which, although it isn’t really a true multi-client IM app, does support AIM, which is the most popular network in the U.S. iChat proves that Apple is interested in offering built-in, native social media support for its users, and moving to networks like Facebook and Twitter is a logical extension of that interest. As has been discussed ad nauseam, Apple’s software wing is generally supposed to exist first and foremost to propel hardware sales, and the programs it packages with new Macs prove that Cupertino tracks computer usage patterns and includes apps that users want.
Personally, I’d love Apple to release an iChat-type client for social networks, maybe something like The Cosmic Machine’s EventBox, though hopefully more fully featured and with Apple’s trademark ability to provide an app with just the right balance of style and simplicity. But, for it to be genuinely useful, it’d have to compete with some of the already stellar clients out there, like Tweetie for Mac, Nambu, and the above-mentioned EventBox. A simple tool for updating your status cross-platform, and for sharing music (which I honestly don’t see myself doing much of anyways) would just fall into disuse, in the same way that I’ve stopped using iChat in favor of Proteus, because I need MSN Messenger support. We’ll see if they get it right.