Part of Apple’s new software announcement last week was the integration of Apple’s iTunes Ping into the newest version of iTunes. iTunes Ping, commonly referred to as simply “Ping” is a social network that has been integrated into the largely popular music software. Described by Steve Jobs as "Twitter and Facebook meet iTunes," Ping aims to let the already-existing and rather massive audience of iTunes users “friend” each other, stay up-to-date on their friends' musical tastes, and like/comment on things found around iTunes. Another Ping feature allows users to rate bands and songs.
The main purpose of the social networking aspect of iTunes is to allow users to discover new music, follow artists, as well as see up to date comments posted by their friends. This aspect of it, is fairly similar to a Facebook or a Twitter account, but keeps all of your music information within a software program that most people already use fairly often, and some people even use daily. What is also great about Ping, is that similar to Facebook and Twitter, Ping is accessible on the go, with Ping being available in iTunes for both iPod Touches, and iPhones.
Ping will also create a custom chart showing music selections based on those followed. Basically, you can follow your friends or favorite artists and see what kind of music they are listening to. The actual activity stream consists of your friend connections, purchases, comments, and concert plans. Every time a song or album is mentioned, a Buy button is displayed, and this offers additional drop-down choices for Like, Post, Gift This Album, Add to Wish List, Tell a Friend, Copy Link, and Share on Facebook or Twitter. In a demonstration during the official release announcement, Jobs showed how users can also post videos and photos to the service, as well as search concert information and tag concerts attended.
Getting started with Ping is easy. Ping requires iTunes 10 and by default Ping is not activated. Apple must have learned from all the complaints about Facebook's privacy, by making users turn this feature on themselves. Once you install the latest version of iTunes, you can find Ping in the iTunes Store menu bar and click on Ping to set up your account. Once your Ping account is created you can then find Ping in the navigation bar to the left. For a step by step tutorial on how to activate your Ping account click here.
There are over 160 million iTunes users, all of whom are able to sign up for the new Ping service. Given the shear numbers, I can only assume Ping will be a hit, but only time will tell.
Facebook's newest feature allows you to share your location with your friends.
Facebook has launched its new Places feature allowing you to share your current location by "checking in" from your smartphone. It’s basically Facebook’s version of Foursquare, a company that Facebook considered buying earlier in the year. If you never really got into earlier location-based social networking services or just want to know what it is or how to turn it off, read on for everything you need to know about Facebook Places.
Checking In Via Smartphone
Before you can share your location with your Facebook friends, Facebook needs to know where you are. Just open touch.facebook.com in your web browser (or use the Facebook for iPhone app on your iPhone, iPod Touch, or iPad), and you'll see a tab under "Inbox" called "Places." For the iOS app, it'll show a new icon in the middle of the home screen.
Tap Places, and you'll see your recent check-ins as well as where your friends and checked-in from. From here, you can find more detailed information about the places your friends are checking into (map location, description, directions, comments, and other check-ins), or you can check yourself into a nearby location by pressing the Check In button at the top-right corner of the page.
The list of available locations comes from other people's check-ins and listings from Bing's mapping engine, so you might have to add your location manually by pressing “Add”, and it will take you to a page where you can fill out a name and description.
Once you tap Check In, you'll be presented with a list of nearby locations where other people have checked in. Tap the one you want to check into, and you can choose to comment on what you are doing there or add your Facebook friends to your check-in (Press the What are you doing? and Tag Friends With You buttons, respectively). Next, press the big Check In button, and it will show up on your News Feed.
Businesses Owning Their Facebook Place
While anyone can add a Facebook Place, business owners can turn the listing in Places into a proper Facebook Page, with Likes and a Wall. Start by checking in from your Place (or adding it, if it doesn't show up in the list of nearby Places), and click the link on the bottom of the page that says Is this your business?
Facebook doesn't want people cybersquatting on someone else's business listing, so you'll have to check a box certifying you're an official representative of the business and click Proceed with Verification to continue. Next, you'll have to provide your business's contact information, including your Federal Employee ID number (if applicable) and some kind of official documentation (Certificate of Formation, Articles of Certificate of Incorporation, a local business license, or a BBB accreditation).
Once you've submitted that information and received the okay from Facebook's User Operations team, you'll be in full control of your new Place.
Turning Off Facebook Places
If you decided Facebook Places isn't for you, there are a handful of settings you will have to change to fully deactivate it. Start by going to Account > Privacy Settings > Customize Settings under Sharing on Facebook. From here, you'll need to change the settings for Places I Check In, People Here Now, and Friends Can Check Me into Places (under the Things Others Share heading).
You'll need to change one more setting: Go back to Privacy Settings, choose the Edit Your Settings option under the Applications and Websites heading (lower-left), and click Edit Settings for Info accessible to your friends. Uncheck the Places I've Visited box, and you are good to go.
For a more detailed explanation the options available for Facebook Places check out the Facebook Blog, "Facebook Blog: Who, What, When, and now…Where”
Apple has sent out invitations to the press for a 'special event' scheduled on September 1st at the Yerba Buena Center for Arts Theater in San Francisco. The text in the invite offered no hint of what might be in store, but there has been plenty of speculation leading up to it. Many rumor mongers bet that Apple will introduce the new iPod Touch with camera and/or a cheaper Apple TV box unit. From the buzz over the web and in the technology world, it looks like it might be more of an iPod related event.
The invites sent out contain image of an acoustic guitar with the Apple logo cut out on it. It is fairly clear that Apple would be releasing something related to music. Among the new products and services rumored to be on tap:
- A new iPod touch, possible with a higher-res screen and one or two cameras
- A new Apple TV, priced at $99 and built around iOS and the iTunes store
- A 99-cent TV rental service, subject to the agreement of the TV studios
- A cloud-based iTunes service that makes use of the new data center Apple has been building in North Carolina.
Earlier this year, two iPod touch prototypes with camera were spotted on eBay.
Heavy buzz is being created about the new Apple TV box that would be lighter, cheaper and won't have any hard drive. This complements rumors about the new cloud-based iTunes service. Any or all of this could be wrong, of course. I guess we’ll all have to wait for the announcements from this special event scheduled 12pm Central on September 1.