Monday, May 12, 2008
Have you ever wished you could share information and interact with friends while visiting some of your favorite websites? There are a number of great social networking sites out there that let you stay connected, but the rest of the web typically hasn't been social. Yet.
Site owners have been saying for a while that they would love to provide this functionality, but, frankly, it's been too hard to add social features. A lot of code has to be written to create a site where visitors can sign up and bring their friends along, form new friendships, and do engaging things together. And not to mention that if you're a site visitor, it's pretty inconvenient to create a new account and try to rebuild a network of friends each time you visit a site.
Enter Google Friend Connect. This new service, announced as a preview release tonight at Campfire One, lets non-technical site owners sprinkle social features throughout their websites, so visitors will easily be able to join with their AOL, Google, OpenID, and Yahoo! credentials. You'll be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends or, using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the web like Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, LinkedIn, orkut, Plaxo, and others. And quite simply, you'll be able to do things together.
Having faces show up at a site is not enough. Friend Connect lets site owners include OpenSocial apps made by a world of developers. We're providing a few apps, such as posts and ratings, to get the ball rolling. And many more will be provided by the OpenSocial community.
With this functionality, there's no end to the possibilities. A small site dedicated to mountain biking in Moab, for example, would be able to have members who could exchange maps, tips, and pictures of their latest rides. A stroke victims support site could help grieving family members assist one another by sharing advice. A politician's site could enable supporters to advocate their viewpoints. A musician's site could give fans the chance to interact full tilt with the band and one another.
Take a look at a few white-listed sites using Google Friend Connect: Ingrid Michaelson's official website, which includes the iLike music application, and Bible Apps, owned by an OpenSocial developer fully dedicated to his "Verses" application -- where people can post prayers and test their knowledge of the Bible as a quiz game with their friends.
If you run a website and would like to add social features, you can now sign up for the wait list and learn more by visiting www.google.com/friendconnect. We're going to keep things pretty limited at first so we can gather feedback from site owners, developers, and users, but, in the weeks ahead, we'll be reaching out to more site owners and adding more social apps to the gallery.
You can also learn more about Google Friend Connect, OpenSocial, and other social initiatives at Google I/O, a two-day developer gathering about building the next generation of web applications. It takes place May 28-29 at Moscone West in San Francisco. Register now for Google I/O at http://code.google.com/events/io/.