Apple Introduces Ping, Social-Networking for Music

Steve Jobs, joined by Chris Martin, announces new iTunes feature and updated iPods

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At a music-themed conference this afternoon in San Francisco, Apple CEO Steve Jobs has announced the company's new line of iPods and a "social network for music," called Ping, that will allow iTunes users to connect with their friends for music recommendations. Job described Ping, which will be available with the launch of iTunes 10 today, as "Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes." He also brought out Coldplay's Chris Martin to perform a solo piano rendition of "Viva La Vida," a song Martin admitted owes much of its success to its placement in an Apple commercial, and a brand new track called "Wedding Bells." "This is a new song, I've been working on it — it's called "Coldplay 2.6," Martin said. "It has a lot of new features. It features seven different kinds of chords. Even a new one that our closest rivals have no idea about."

With a Facebook-like layout and a "scrobbling" system similar to Last.fm's, Ping will allow friends on iTunes to see each other's music tastes, concerts they'll be attending and more. Apple also said they would ditch the compact disc in the iTunes logo, replacing it with a musical note encased in a blue circle. As for iPods, all three of Apple's major models have new designs and features: the iPod Touch now comes with the "FaceTime" technology introduced on the iPhone 4, plus HD video recording and in-device video editing. The iPod Nano gains a touch screen, an FM radio and a pedometer. Finally, the iPod Shuffle now comes both with play buttons, as in earlier incarnations, and the VoiceOver technology that later replaced the buttons. All three of the updated iPods will become available next week. Jobs did not mention any new models or changes for the iPod Classic, leading Gizmodo to speculate that the old-school model and its scrolling wheel were finally being phased out. Which pre-conference rumors were not addressed? The long-discussed iTunes.com with "cloud-based" streaming technology, and 90-second song samples on iTunes.

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