Apple has announced the launch of Ping, its music-oriented social network platform, available through iTunes.

Ping, coinciding with the release of the latest version of iTunes (version 10), allows users to follow favourite musicians, as well as follow friends to see what music they’re listening to and which musicians they’re downloading. As is common on other social network sites, users can share their thoughts and opinions, but this time largely around their favourite albums, songs, concerts and downloads.

Ping is able to draw from a huge database, as iTunes already has over 160 million users in 23 countries.

“iTunes is the number one music community in the world […] and now we’re adding social networking with Ping,” said Steve Jobs, Apple’s CEO. “With Ping you can follow your favourite artists and friends and join a worldwide conversation with music’s most passionate fans.”

Apple has had a busy week, with the announcement of a few improvements to their range of music listening devices. The new iPod touch has features such as an advanced screen and high definition video recording, while the iPod Nano has also been improved upon with a touch screen and a ‘shake to shuffle’ track choice option and the iPod shuffle has been re-introduced with voiceover options.