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Apple introduces iTunes 10 with Ping social music network

The next version of iTunes, available today, includes Ping, a social music discovery tool that allows users to follow friends and artists, helping customers to discover and share new music.

"It's sort of like Facebook and Twitter meet iTunes," Apple Chief Executive Steve Jobs said of the entirely new Ping service. He described it as a social network all about music, built in to the new iTunes, now available for download.

The product is based on discovery, allowing users to see what their friends are listening to and what concerts they're going to.

Users can choose to "follow" artists, as well as their friends, and iTunes will populate a customized top 10 list that represents what their friends are downloading. Users can also see concerts that are coming near them, and inform their friends that they will be attending.

Ping will be open to over 160 million customers, who can sign up immediately. It will also be available to iPhone and iPod touch users through the existing iTunes Store.

iTunes 10 will also ship with a new logo, which Jobs joked reflects the fact that by next Spring, Apple is expected to surpass all CD sales in the U.S. The new iTunes logo dispenses of the CD that was previously featured, and only includes a musical note.

iTunes 10

Jobs also demonstrated a new "hybrid" view within iTunes 10, which automatically displays album art when there are five or more tracks from the same record.

iTunes 10

"iTunes is the number one music community in the world, with over 160 million iTunes users in 23 countries, and now we’re adding social networking with Ping," Jobs said in a press release. "With Ping you can follow your favorite artists and friends and join a worldwide conversation with music’s most passionate fans."