Among all the shiny new announcements at WWDC, Apple's social service Ping looks like it was left to exit via the back doors, without so much as a goodbye wave. But what will Apple be looking to add for users with the next iTunes upgrade?
Ping, Ping, Ping, Beeeeeep....
Non-Apple users would be amazed to hear that the company actually had a social product. All I ever saw of it was feeble attempts to get me to share details of my music purchases when using iTunes. And since I buy music for my wife and children to listen too, there is no way that I would want to share that information with anyone.
Even my own "taste" in music is so bad, I'm banned from playing it at parties. So, again, its sole purpose is kind of wasted on me. Perhaps Apple's hipster crowd might have got more use from it, teasing each other with the latest Them Crooked Vultures track. Either way, it looks like the experiment has failed and will be killed off in the next iTunes and iOS updates.
That makes a good deal of sense, given the deeper integration of Facebook and Twitter within iOS and OS X, it is logical to extend that to iTunes, itself in need of a major overhaul. So, expect to be able to "Like" and "Tweet" about your next batch of music and video purchases, but what else could iTunes be upgraded to offer?
All iTuned Out
Apple declined to show iTunes updates at the WWDC event, likely saving it for Fall's iPhone 5 launch. However, we can make some educated guesses at what is coming. Apple sorely lacks a streaming audio service to compete with the near endless joy of a Last.FM, Spotify or Sony's Music Unlimited. It shouldn't be too hard for a monthly fee option to be added to iTunes, allowing for iPhone, iPod and iPad users to enjoy a radio-like stream, perhaps with "inserted" songs to hype new artists appropriate to your listening tastes.
Similarly, when Apple iTV does arrive, a streaming video service will be needed to match the likes of Amazon's Prime Instant Video, Netflix and others. While Apple doesn't specifically need these services, and may decline to offer them, customers will be expecting them, and to not have the option could damage Apple's ambitions.
Support Your Local Apps
The apps side of iTunes is also pretty grim, a minefield of hundreds of thousands of titles that are all but impossible to navigate beyond the top 10 lists. Apple purchased Chomp not long ago to help curate and sort apps, hopefully that functionality, along with smarter search, will appear in the next version.
Finally, since we've got the office crystal ball out, would it be too much to expect better online integration from iTunes? How hard would it be to link in to location-aware ticketing services for movies, concerts and the like? I'm sure Apple would love a cut of that business and with the PassBook unveiled at WWDC, digital ticketing of this sort would be a great way to push the app.