Google has set out to enable all websites, free of charge, to be imbued with common social networking features as the Internet evolves toward becoming a giant community along the lines of MySpace or Facebook.
Google Friend Connect was previewed at a Campfire One
gathering of third-party software developers at the
company's "Googleplex" campus in Mountain View,
California on Monday.
With Google Friend Connect, any website owner can add a
snippet of code to his or her site and get social
features up and running immediately without programming
-- picking and choosing from built-in functionality
like user registration, invitations, members gallery,
message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party
applications built by the OpenSocial developer
Visitors to any site using Google Friend Connect will
be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends,
or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing
friends from social sites on the web, including
Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, orkut, Plaxo, and more.
The unveiling of the plan comes just days after top
social networking websites MySpace and Facebook broke
down walls of their online communities to let members
share profile information at other websites.
"Google Friend Connect is about helping the 'long tail'
of sites become more social," said David Glazer, a
director of engineering at Google. "Many sites aren't
explicitly social and don't necessarily want to be
social networks, but they still benefit from letting
their visitors interact with each other. That used to
be hard. Fortunately, there's an emerging wave of
social standards -- OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the
data access APIs published by Facebook, Google,
MySpace, and others. Google Friend Connect builds on
these standards to let people easily connect with their
friends, wherever they are on the web, making 'any app,
any site, any friends' a reality."
To demonstrate, an iLike application was incorporated
into an official website of musician Ingrid Michaelson
so that visitors don't have to leave to connect with
friends at their social networking profiles.
All website operators using Friend Connect see are user
nicknames and images, if any, posted along with them.
Website owners are invited to put their names in a
"white list" queue online at www/google.com/friendconnect
Google plans to phase in more websites and social
networks in the months to come, with the Open Social
software platform as a basis for interoperability.
Google launched Open Social last year to promote common
protocols so developers can make applications that work
on any social networking website involved in the