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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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