While Apple and social networking didn't get off to a good start with Ping!, it appears Apple may be willing to try again with a new patent pointing to a social networking feature they are titling "Places". (Does this sound familiar to anyone else?)
The patent shows that Places will be a social networking type service that will use the assistance of GPS to locate users on iOS devices. Whether or not it will integrate with Ping! is yet to be seen. The service is pretty much the same thing most mobile users already know how to use through apps like Gowalla and Foursquare. Ping! didn't seem to do as well as Apple would have liked so this may be a move to try and tie in the two services.
My big issue with Apple creating services like this is that it only encompasses the Apple ecosystem. What about my friends that are on other platforms such as Android? I can already interact with them through services like Gowalla and Foursquare, which are cross-platform. Apple would have to give me a really good reason to use their service to get me to abandon apps I'm already familiar with. Perhaps they'll integrate access to those services through their own. I'm still surprised they're using the title "Places" since Facebook already uses that title for their check-in service, and Apple already uses it for its facial recognition in iPhoto and Aperture.
What do you guys think? Would you use it or stick with what you already have?