Hands On: iTunes 10's Ping feature

When Steve Jobs introduced last week, the aspect he seemed most excited about was Ping, which he described as a, "social network for music" that piggy-backs on the iTunes Store.

Ping is designed to let you follow artists and friends, share what music you're buying and are into, and discover what others enjoy. So is it worth the Apple-generated hype?

To get started with Ping, just click the Ping entry in the iTunes sidebar. You'll be asked if you want to turn on Ping, and then it will walk you through the process of creating a profile. You can pick up to 10 songs to display as Music I Like (or let Ping pick from your rated, reviewed, or purchased songs), choose up to three favorite genres, add a bio, and upload a picture (Apple has to "approve" pictures, so the last part can take a while.) And you can choose whether other people can follow you, and whether you must approve each request--if you opt for the latter, you'll get an e-mail each time someone wants to follow you, with a clickable link to approve the person.

When you're done, you can start using Ping. What is there to do? Well, for now, not much. You can follow friends by searching for their names; e-mailing an invitation, or see who friends are following and extend your network by following those people. And you can post stuff. Sort of.

If you're used to Facebook, you know you can post all sorts of things there: links, photos, videos and more. On Ping, you can only post text about music, and only about music in the iTunes Store. There's no field where you write something you want to post that's not connected to a song or album. You have to choose an item in the iTunes Store, click on the arrow icon next to its price, then choose Post from the pop-up menu. (You can also show your affinity for a song or album by choosing Like from the same menu.)