Apple is still struggling to find converts for its Ping music sharing “social network” it’s built into iTunes, but the company is taking some steps to make Ping more useful to folks who do use it: Ping users can now share iTunes Playlists via their Ping profiles, and collaborate on playlists with their friends. The feature is available immediately to all users of iTunes 10; no separate software update is required.
Using the new features, users can publish playlists so they will be visible to their Ping friends—making it easy to share that epic mix of holiday tunes your best friends swear they’ve never heard before. Ping friends can rate and review published playlists, and Ping users who really trust their friends—or just want a good laugh—can grant permission for friends to edit their playlists.
As with other Ping activity, songs only matter if they’re available via iTunes. This has the upside that users can add tracks to their playlists even if they don’t own them—so long as they’re available via iTunes, they’re eligible. The flip side, of course, is that users can’t add anything that’s not available via iTunes: those songs are quietly removed. Playlists are also limited to a somewhat arbitrary 100 songs.
Overall, Apple’s Ping music sharing network still feels like a walled garden: since Apple wasn’t able to work out a deal with Facebook, sharing music via Ping can be a very isolating experience for folks who live and die by Facebook status updates. However, iTunes has also improved Ping’s integration with Twitter.