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iTunes 10 Goes "Ping!"

Almost 10 years after releasing iTunes in January 2001, Apple last week announced and released iTunes 10. The new version offers a slightly refined interface that stacks the Close, Minimize, and Zoom buttons and desaturates the sidebar of all color (neither of which seems like an improvement), along with a new icon that drops the background image of the audio CD. Overall, iTunes 10's features are essentially the same as version 9, save for one big addition, called Ping.

Ping adds musical social networking to iTunes as a way of making it easier to discover (and buy, of course) new music. As with Twitter, friend-to-friend connections are asymmetrical, so a famous musician can pick up zillions of followers without having to follow each one back. You can set up your own profile so that anyone can follow you, so only people you approve can do so, or so no one can. Once you have a few friends, you can exchange messages about tracks and albums in the iTunes Store in a Facebook-like manner, see what music your friends are downloading, and even view a top-ten music list that summarizes the most popular music your friends are downloading. You can also view concert listings - Apple claimed a database of over 17,000 concerts - although it remains unclear if you can limit concerts to those in your immediate vicinity.

It all sounds very trendy, and we're looking forward to seeing if it helps us find excellent music that we'd otherwise never hear about. Although Ping should be a money-maker for Apple, it could also provide a financial boost for smaller bands that rely on word-of-mouth for marketing. Ping is available to all 160 million people with iTunes accounts, but we suspect that the number of people who are interested in social networking and music discovery may be a good deal lower.

Look for Ping in the iTunes 10 sidebar, under the Store category. Ping is available not just in iTunes 10, but it is - or will be soon - also available in the iTunes app on various iOS devices, where it will show up in the tab bar at the bottom of the screen.


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Comments about iTunes 10 Goes "Ping!"
(Comments are closed.)

Seth Anderson  2010-09-01 14:30
Apple changed the download iTunes 10 link to “coming soon”, as of this afternoon anyway. Perhaps some glitch discovered at the last moment?
Glenn Fleishman  2010-09-02 07:47
I just can't figure out why Apple desaturated all the iTunes icons. I like color.
Jeff Carlson  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-09-02 08:27
I agree. Now I have to make an extra effort to parse what the icons are. It's the same thing they did with home directory icons in Snow Leopard, where they're all inscrutable, especially at small sizes.
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-09-02 13:56
It's harkening back to the good old days of greyscale monitors.
Tonya Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-09-02 15:59
I find that I end up in the sidebar for the wrong program, sometimes, because they all look the same from a slight distance. I wish Apple would let me customize the sidebar color in each app. They could offer me subtle, designed tones instead of letting me pick anything, if they were worried that I'd make ugly choices!
Chris Kohuch  2010-09-03 21:15
I'm not sure that reorienting the maximize, minimize, and close buttons to vertical (presumable to match the ones in the mini player) so that they are different from every other Mac OS window is wise either.
Michael B  2010-09-06 17:38
TUAW had an article "Five dislikes plus five likes equals iTunes 10". Here's from that article: "What's with the close / minimize / maximize buttons being vertical in the top "toolbar" of iTunes 10 (see example at right)? As I stated to my cohorts here at TUAW this morning, doesn't that fly in the face of 10 years of experience with OS X and even violate Apple's Human Interface Guidlines? Fortunately, there's relief. A tweet from @rudyrichter showed how to fix this -- pop into Terminal and type or paste in "defaults write full-window -1", press Return, relaunch iTunes and life is back to normal."
Adam Engst  An apple icon for a TidBITS Staffer 2010-09-07 07:38
Thanks for the tip!
John Baxter  2010-09-06 18:38
I clicked on Ping in the sidebar, noted that it needs to be turned on, and ignored it after that.

--asocial John
Dennis B. Swaney  2010-09-06 20:46
What a disaster iTunes 10 has been for me. Ugly UI that also violates Apples UI guidelines. The last straw was today it refused to connect to the iTunes Store saying "the host was down" Funny the host was up for iTunes 9.2.1 on my other Macs, up for my iPhone, and up for my iPad. So I "UPGRADED" back to iTunes 9.2.1 and once again I could connect with the store. Of course, since iTunes 10 had modified my Library I had to rebuild it, and now I'm having to rebuild my iPhone, and later my iPad.

Yesterday, every time I went to the iTunes Store, iTunes 10 would launch Ping and try to get me to activate it. I guess it was because I refused so many times, that I was blocked from using the iTunes Store. I will not go beyond 9.2.1 from now on.
after using v10 for a week, I am going back to v9
I visited the iTunes store several times this weekend, had itunes open almost constantly, and was never prompted to 'opt-in' to Ping. I do not think I will use it. My friends have very dissimilar musical tastes from mine, and everyone in my household, with whom I would be interested in sharing a feature like Ping, is on the same iTunes account, so it won't help there.
The list view of podcasts shows the first few words of the description. In iTunes 9 and earlier, there was an "i" in a circle at the end of the description. Clicking it opened a window with the full description.

iTunes 10 only displays the "i" after you have selected the podcast. This turns what was a one-click process into a click-pause-click process. The pause is because two clicks close together becomes a double-click which begins playing the podcast.

The simple process of scanning through podcasts to see what they are about has now become extremely tedious.

Do Apple ever field test the usability of their changes? Seemingly not :-(
Mike P  2010-09-15 23:12
They also got rid of the BURN button toward the bottom right corner. It was not in anyone's way. So now you have to go from the FILE dropdown menu.