While Apple presented a new iPhone, and new iPods yesterday, they certainly were in no hurry to announce that a feature that the company introduced with fanfare two years ago has been slated for its demise. Ping, Apple’s “musical social network” is shutting down on September 30. If you are not logged into your iTunes Store account, and click on the Ping button at the top of the iTunes Store window, you’ll see this:
All I can say is, it’s about time. I found Ping lacking when it started out, and it never changed much, but it is interesting to look at why Ping is a failure.
The closing of Ping will have one advantage: we’ll no longer ask ourselves how long until Apple shuts it down.
Posted: 9/13/2012 by kirk | Filed under: Apple & Mac OS X, iPod & iTunes Tags: Apple, iTunes, iTunes Store, Ping | No Comments »
You asked for it, you got it.
Finally! For all the Pingophobes, iTunes 10.1, just released, lets you disable Ping and remove it from the iTunes sidebar. There are two ways to do this.
Go to the General preferences and uncheck the Ping box:
Or go to the Parental preferences, and check the Ping box:
Thank you, Apple. We can now ignore Ping if we choose.
Now, if we could only get some color back in that sidebar…
Posted: 11/12/2010 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes Tags: iTunes, Ping, social media | 17 Comments »
Apple’s Ping, which is the “musical social network” grafted onto the iTunes Store, has been limping along since its introduction. So any way of getting it out of its fortress could help Apple to make people realize that Ping exists, and potentially sell more music. Apple and Twitter have announced an integration of the two services, whereby Ping users can link their Ping accounts with their Twitter accounts, leading to a potential tsunami of unwanted tweets, and a flood of unfollows on Twitter.
My Macworld colleague Chris Breen asks if this is an invitation to annoy, and I agree with most of his points. The main error in this integration is that Ping tweets are not selective. Everything you buy will lead to a tweet, even those free songs you download just for the heck of it. (Of course, this information displays in your friends’ Ping updates, but that’s where it should be.) Every time you like a song or album, a tweet will be sent out with its URL. Chris points out that you can, of course, choose to tweet about an individual item, even if you don’t link your accounts, and I feel that things should remain like this. Perhaps Apple could add a checkbox when you like or post about something via Ping, offering to tweet it as well, but making it an all-or-nothing option shows that Apple clearly does not understand social networking.
This said, perhaps those of us who write about technology don’t understand it either. I’ve only been using Twitter for a few months, and do it mostly to stay in touch with my Mac journalist colleagues, tweeting only about things I write about: Macs, iTunes, iPods, books, music, and little more. (And, of course, inviting readers to follow my tweets.) Sure, some of the people I follow tweet about sports, often, and I wish I could filter those tweets; it was especially annoying during the World Series, as many of my Twitter friends are in San Francisco. But that’s not such a big deal; I can skim over them. If their Ping activity were tweeted, though, it would be an annoyance; not insurmountable, though, because most of them don’t do much on Ping.
Maybe the target demographic – younger people – want this kind of info. Maybe there are some people out there who really use Ping a lot (I haven’t been able to find them – if you’re one, please post in the comments). My experience with Ping suggests that most people are ignoring it, or they’re simply not buying much on the iTunes Store.
In any case, Apple’s all-or-nothing approach is a mistake. Users will find that the annoyance of this link is not worth the trouble to their followers. The same will be true with Facebook, if Apple creates a similar sort of link. Facebook is a bit different, and perhaps people would see it as less of an intrusion. But intrusion it is. While automating such things ensures their dispersal to the masses, it also annoys. Without automation, many people will forget. And there’s the rub: if they forget to share the info, maybe your system really isn’t compelling enough.
Posted: 11/12/2010 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes Tags: Ping, social media, Twitter | 1 Comment »
Since Apple introduced Ping, I have commented on the service, pointing out what’s there and what’s not, and I made some suggestions as to how Apple could make Ping a success. But it seems like Ping is not doing too well, given that Apple’s been sending e-mails reminding users of its features, even after Apple added visible Ping buttons to your iTunes music library.
So, with all this, I’ve been asking around, and looking at the profiles of those people I follow, to see if Ping is catching on. Sure, I see every purchase my friends make from the iTunes Store; that’s automatic. But aside from that, most of the people I know don’t use Ping. When I queried a number of them, they all said that they basically forgot about it. A few post comments on songs or albums, but it seems that, from my limited inquiries, Ping is getting a big shrug.
To be fair, I and my friends may not be the Ping demographic. While many of the people I follow are near my age group (verging on “old”), there are quite a few in their 20s who I follow, and they, too, seem pretty Ping-inactive.
Not only do people not seem to be using it much, but when I went to look at Ping today, I looked at the artists that Apple recommends I follow. The first five have between zero and three followers; when I clicked though to the list, the majority of the artists listed were below ten followers. Either popular artists aren’t creating profiles, or Apple’s recommendation engine is off the tracks. Because none of these artists have anything to do with music I’m interested in, and in the full list, there’s only a handful that I’ve heard of. Given that Apple has my purchase history from the iTunes Store, and that none of the artists whose music I’ve purchased shows up in this list, I have to assume that they’re simply not interested in Ping. (And this includes a number of well-known artists, in some cases for music purchased for my son, whose tastes are very different from mine.)
Then there’s the list of people that Apple suggests I follow. I keep seeing the same list, over and over. I can’t click a button to remove the people I don’t want to follow (people I don’t know) from the list. And I don’t see any new ones being added over time. Obviously, these are all friends of friends, but since I don’t know them, I’d like to scratch them off the list. No can do.
Again, all of the above is purely anecdotic, and may not represent the experiences of others. But from what I’ve read on the internet, my experience is not unique. Ping is being ignored, and dust is starting to accumulate. It seems like it is becoming like that basement that you furnished but that no one wanted to use as a rec room, and which is being forgotten.
Posted: 11/6/2010 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes Tags: iTunes, Ping, social media | 3 Comments »
Apple has made a change in the way content is delivered to iTunes via what was called, since the release of iTunes 10, the Ping Sidebar. As of today, it is called the iTunes Sidebar, and includes Genius recommendations, something many users were unhappy about losing.
Depending on what you select in your library, you may see the following:
- iTunes Ping could not find matches for your specific selection. This displays when Ping/Genius doesn’t know your music.
- An album or song name, if it does know your music, giving you the option to Like the music or Post about it.
- Artist information, if the artist has a Ping profile: you can follow the artist or see their latest posts.
- My Recent Activity. Ping-related activity, if you’re signed into Ping.
- Genius Recommendations. If Genius is on, this will show selected tracks or albums from the iTunes Store that you may like.
Since this sidebar is generated by the iTunes Store, in HTML, there didn’t need to be an update to the iTunes program for this to change.
It’s good to see that Apple has heard the many users who found the Ping sidebar useless, but who did appreciate the Genius recommendations in the old sidebar. The combination of the two makes more sense, and it’s likely that we’ll be seeing other changes to Ping and its related features over time as well.
Posted: 10/30/2010 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes Tags: iTunes, Ping, social media | 1 Comment »
A few weeks ago, I wondered if Apple had killed of Ping on the iPod touch. I wasn’t seeing the Ping button in the iTunes app, and several people confirmed that they weren’t seeing it either. (Though others confirmed that the Ping button was present on their iPod touches.)
Today, out of curiosity, I checked my iPod touch to see if the Ping button was there. Not only did it show up, but there’s also another new button, Ringtones. Here’s the configuration screen, showing all the available buttons:
Odd that there’s a Ringtones button on the iPod touch, but I guess one might want to buy ringtones there and sync them to an iTunes library. But there’s no Ringtones section of the iTunes Store on accessible from a computer, so could this be new? (I’ve never bought a ringtone, and I don’t own an iPhone, so I’ve never paid attention to this.)
Learn more about iTunes 10 in my ebook Take Control of iTunes 10: The FAQ.
Posted: 10/7/2010 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes Tags: iPod, Ping, social media | No Comments »
With iTunes 10, Apple added their “musical social network” Ping. It’s gotten a fair amount of criticism (including from me). Apple then released an update to iTunes to fix a few bugs and add some new Ping features.
As Adam Engst points out in an article about the Ping upgrade on TidBITS, “It just doesn’t seem very friendly to ‘share’ my favorite music via 30-second previews that require my friends to ante up just to hear the full track.”
I think Adam has found the weak point of Ping. Sharing musical tastes has always been something that music-lovers have done spontaneously, yet copiously. I can remember many long evenings spent at friends’ houses listening to music: a song from this album, a side from that one, a B-side from a single, then a track from a mix tape. Flitting from one style to another, checking out obscure artists and intriguing collaborations, we’d find many artists, albums and songs that we had never heard before, yet which grabbed us.
So hearing a 30-second snippet of a song is not going to convince me; I need more. What Apple needs to do to get Ping to take off is let people listen to songs for free. Imagine if Apple were to allow every friend of someone who has “liked” or “posted” about a song to listen to that song, in its entirety, for free, just once. How many more people would actually listen to songs if they could hear them in extenso? I know that I haven’t listened to a single preview via Ping, but I’d certainly try listening to some songs if I could hear all of them.
While Apple would certainly have to rejigger some stuff in the iTunes Store for this to work, it’s not impossible. However, I can see the RIAA and the rights-holders getting antsy about it, and expecting Apple to performance rights. If this could be solved, though, Ping would become not just a place where people see tiny ads for music, but more like a radio station programmed by all your friends where you could really discover new music.
Learn more about iTunes 10 in my ebook Take Control of iTunes 10: The FAQ.
Posted: 9/27/2010 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes Tags: Apple, iTunes, Ping, social media | 2 Comments »
Apple has released a minor update to iTunes, version 10.0.1, which corrects a number of bugs in iTunes 10, but also adds something new: the Ping sidebar.
First, here’s what’s new in this version of iTunes:
iTunes 10.0.1 makes it easier to share your favorite music with your friends on Ping. You can now Like or Post about music right from your iTunes library. You can also easily see the recent activity of a selected artist in your library, or of all artists and friends you follow on Ping using the new Ping Sidebar.
This release also provides a number of important bug fixes, including:
• Addresses an issue where the picture quality of a video changes depending on whether the on-screen controls are visible.
• Resolves an issue where iTunes may unexpectedly quit while interacting with album artwork viewed in a separate window.
• Fixes a problem that affects the performance of some third-party visualizers.
• Addresses an issue where the iTunes library and playlists appear empty.
• Resolves an issue that created an incompatibility with some third-party shared libraries.
So what about this Ping sidebar? How does it work?
Well, if you remember the Genius sidebar, that you could display by clicking a button at the bottom-right of the iTunes window, or by choosing View > Show Genius Sidebar (or Command-Shift-G), the Ping sidebar has taken its place.
The Ping sidebar shows you activity by friends and artists you follow. You can click a link to go to the full Ping page, but the sidebar – if you choose to use up your screen real estate by displaying it – can make it easier to see what your friends and favorite artists are up to.
The Ping sidebar is a combination of the Genius sidebar and the new Ping features. If you don’t select anything in your library, it only shows Ping activity. If you select something, however, it will show you Ping-related activity relevant to that selection. This could be, for example, links to an artist’s page, if any exists, to posts they’ve made, but also to content available from that artist. In some cases, the album or song you have selected will display at the top of the sidebar so you can like it or post about it.
In addition to the sidebar, there are now Ping buttons in iTunes lists as well. Click a track to select it and you’ll see a new button in the Name column.
Click that button to access Ping functions:
A similar button displays for the currently playing item, whether or not it’s selected.
So Apple has clearly addressed some of the complaints that were made initially about Ping, especially that of not being able to like or post about items without searching for them in the iTunes Store.
If you don’t want to use Ping at all? You still can’t hide it from the iTunes sidebar under the STORE section. Want to get rid of the Ping buttons in your library? Run this command in Terminal:
defaults write com.apple.itunes hide-ping-dropdown -bool YES
Even if you hide these buttons, you can still access the Ping functions – Like, Post and Show Artist Profile – by right-clicking on a track.
Doug needs to make a script to get rid of these buttons right away.
I have a feeling that Apple is going to get a lot of grief for these evil buttons.
Update: Doug Adams has posted his Toggle Ping Buttons AppleScript that will do the above change for those who don’t want to use Terminal.
Learn more about iTunes 10 in my ebook Take Control of iTunes 10: The FAQ.
Posted: 9/25/2010 by kirk | Filed under: iPod & iTunes Tags: iTunes, Ping, social media | 14 Comments »