Apple improves its social network for music, but you still can't "like" The Beatles
Someone at Apple (aapl) seems to be paying attention to what people have been saying about Ping, the social network add-on to iTunes that Steve Jobs unveiled with such fanfare Sept. 1 and which critics excoriated with such enthusiasm (see Can Ping Be Saved?)
Within four days, Apple had made two out of the 10 most requested fixes -- navigation buttons and an effective spam filter.
Then on Saturday, with the release of iTunes 10.0.01, it made the most important improvement yet: a way to "like" or "post" music you are actually listening to -- thus connecting for the first time Ping's music network to its users' music libraries.
That one fix, in TechCrunch's MG Siegler's opinion, made Ping "a thousand times better."
"It's a such an obvious feature," wrote All Things D's Peter Kafka, one of Ping 1.0's harshest critics, "that it's hard to believe that Apple didn't include it in Ping's launch."
"Ping now is beginning to actually be a social network for music," Scripting News' Dave Winer, another early critic, told his readers, although he added shortly afterward that Ping still won't let him "like" The Beatles or any other artists whose music is not for sale on iTunes.
And as Kafka pointed out, Ping still lives in a "gated suburb" that most of his friends never visit.
"If Apple is really serious about social," he wrote, "then it has to find a way to integrate Ping with Facebook, Twitter, and the rest of the networks your pals are already using. My hunch is that we'll see that eventually."
[Follow Philip Elmer-DeWitt on Twitter @philiped]