Ping, Apple's social network for music on the iTunes Store, is getting a little more social, but not with the network you might expect.
Announced on Twitter's official blog, Ping now integrates with the popular microblogging service. You can hook your Twitter account up to Ping to share your purchases, music "likes," and other activity. Perhaps most importantly, Ping can sift through your Twitter account to help you find and add friends. Plus, if you use the recently redesigned Twitter.com, clicking a tweet with a Ping link will open an iTunes Store area in the preview panel on the right, allowing you to sample the song right on the Twitter Website.
An easier way to add new friends on Ping should go a long way to answering one of the social network's most frequent complaints. Aside from Ping's brief support for adding friends via Facebook integration (which Apple is reportedly still negotiating to reenable), the only way to add new friends on Ping is by entering their e-mail addresses manually, one-by-one. In this day and age of frictionless social networking, this tedious process is akin to death by a thousand paper cuts, except you have to inflict each one on yourself.
Unfortunately, Apple may be up to its usual misunderstanding of social networking. Ping's Twitter integration should making it much easier to add more friends en masse--assuming you use Twitter--but it could just as easily make you lose some of those friends. From our testing, it seems that publishing your Ping activity to Twitter is an all-or-nothing proposition: either you publish every purchase, "like," and comment you make on friends's activity, or you publish none of them.
Still, Ping has finally broken free of the iTunes Store, which should be a net gain for Apple's first social network. In time, it would be great to see Apple dial back the forced publishing feature so users don't have to let the world know about that new Justin Beiber purchase.