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Ping Gets Better, But is it Enough?

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Apple’s (s aapl) first update to version 10 of its media player software iTunes brings with it some much-needed and much-requested improvements for Ping. It shows that Cupertino actually cares about the success of the product, and that it’s interested in what users have to say about its services, both good things. Check it out via Software Update.

But is Ping a good thing, even with the changes? If not, can it ever be? I recently shared my opinion that it might be the next Google Wave (s goog), mainly because of usability issues and limited usefulness to the average user. This update definitely addresses some of the usability concerns and makes it a lot more useful, but there are still some key ingredients missing from the mix.

First, the great news: You can now “Like” songs from right within your library, using a special Ping menu for individual songs, or the regular right-click context menu for artists and albums. It’s a fantastic addition that increases usability of the service exponentially. There’s no way I was going to go find an album or song I like in the iTunes store and “Like” it there, no matter how much I actually liked it, and no matter how much Apple wanted me to spend more time in the commercial part of iTunes.

You can also post content and messages directly from your library in the same way as you can “Like” things. It’s a great way to share your thoughts about an artist on the fly, instead of having to navigate to a different page, at which point inspiration may have already fled.

I can’t emphasize enough how much this changes the experience of Ping. My activity stream has already become a far more bustling place, and the discovery aspect of the service is now actually working. If you’d given up on Ping, like I had, it’s probably time to take a second look.

If your problem wasn’t library integration, however, but was difficulty in finding and adding friends, then you probably won’t find much to recommend a return. No integration with any other social network (or even your email contacts) currently exists, so you’re stuck to searching manually for people you might know.

The update is a great improvement for Ping, and I only ask if it’s enough because I’m concerned many users will already have given up on the service for good, and won’t be coming back no matter the update. Consumers don’t seem to be as willing to wait for a fix with social media as they are with Apple hardware issues.

Apple, since you seem to be listening, bring Ping integration into the iPod libraries of all iOS devices, too, so that we can easily “Like” stuff on the go. I do the vast majority of my music listening using a mobile device, and I suspect I’m not alone. That much of an improvement might also be exciting enough to bring back some of those early deserters.

Have you tried the new and improved Ping? Is it enough to stick around for?

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12 Responses to “Ping Gets Better, But is it Enough?”

  1. I agree that it’s a big improvement but from a terribly low base. I think the way it is now is still at or just below the minimum standard one would expect for a 1.0 release, and unless there’s a drastic advance very soon Ping is already so tarnished that its chances of success are low. And I think the damage to the iTunes brand, a key one for Apple, is pretty big, too.

  2. Can we copy a link from ping? The other day soundgarden posted a link for a new video they just released, and i cannot copy it! really wierd! Are we going back to writing links on pieces of paper?

  3. Ping is a joke and I really do not understand excitement for it like Kevin Rose expressed on Twitter the day of release. I tried it and now am “following” a bunch of artists and friends that are in the background of iTunes that I have no idea of their activity unless I go directly to the Ping page. Since it takes so long to load and present itself, I leave it in the background. When I have visited the Ping page, I quickly scroll through the page finding nothing of interest. Yawn.

    I would have been much more excited about the rumored 60 second previews to tell you the truth.

  4. I’ll never use Ping.
    Off topic: I like the site’s new use of Twitter for posting links, but why is the site so iDevice unfriendly? It’s a real turnoff that keeps me from coming back. Don’t tell me to get your app, their should be a mobile friendly site.

  5. If Apple truly wanted Ping to be used as a social network for sharing opinions on music they should stop requiring that songs/artists who a user ‘likes’ need to be for sale in the iTunes Store. Most content will be for sale but if I want to share with everyone that I just listened to a great song recorded in 1933 why won’t Apple let me?

    now, back to sharing my musical tastes on Facebook where I can post my thoughts on any band I like no matter how obscure.