Ping, Apple’s new musical social networking site which will be part of the upcoming iTunes 10 upgrade, has launched and is set to do battle with Facebook and Twitter.

Ping allows you to follow friends or musicians on iTunes, see what they’re listening to and lets other people know what music you’re buying and playing.

As Apple iTunes has 160 million users, social networking site Ping looks likely to succeed and, although most of us feel pretty social-networked-out, there may just be a gap to be filled with Apple’s new product.

Apple’s Steve Jobs introduced Ping at a San Francisco press launch, saying: “It’s Facebook meets Twitter meets iTunes.

“With Ping you can follow your favourite artists and friends and join a worldwide conversation with music’s most passionate fans.”

Here’s what you’ll be able to do on Ping.

Choose to approve followers and create a limited “circle of friends,” as with Facebook or permit anyone at all to follow you, as in Twitter.

Post the music you’re listening to and have conversations with your followers.

Ping tracks what you play within iTunes or on your iPhone/iPod Touch, and creates a profile of your tastes.

The site offers a news stream showing what your friends are listening to on iTunes.

Ping creates customised social music charts based on what your friends are listening to.

Apple are hoping that up-and-coming bands will use Ping instead of Myspace to promote themselves and ultimately lead to sales for the band and, obviously, for Apple.

Ping can be accessed through iTunes software on Macs and PCs as well as through the iTunes app on iPhones and the iPod Touch.

Downsides to Ping

In the light of Facebook’s gaffes over user privacy, Apple’s limited, all-or-nothing controls on Ping may cause controversy.

Apple’s new social networking site will initially lack a location component to allow friends track each other in real space. However location could be coming to Ping, which also runs on the location-aware iPhone. iTunes 10 alerts you when the artists you listen to the most are set to play a concert in your area.

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Other Apple news – Multitouch Apple iPod Nano

Apple’s new multitouch, miniaturised iPod nano has been unveiled and is causing controversy amoung Apple fans, with some claiming that it is god’s gift and others complaining about the loss of video-recording on the nano.

The new iPod nano looks like a slightly larger version of the old iPod shuffle but has a multitouch screen

The new iPod Shuffle has also been revealed featuring a VoiceOver button, which will read out track or artist information, playlist details or battery status in one of 25 different languages to you.