Google Previews Friend Connect

    May 12, 2008
    WebProNews Staff

There is a trend emerging: online giants making it so users can take their social networks with them anywhere they go on the web, sort of like digital carpooling. Google threw in its offering today, or will tonight anyway, with Google Friend Connect, a wash-n-wear service for incorporating social networking into non-social-networking websites.

Copy-and-paste your social network

Much the way YouTube provides code that can be slapped into a website’s HTML, Google Friend Connect appears to be just as easy. Paste in a code snippet and website operators can offer a way for visitors to interact with their friends onsite.

Google’s new offering is literally on the heels (if social networks had heels) of MySpace and Facebook, both of which announced similar concepts last week. MySpace introduced Data Availability, which allows MySpace users to incorporate their profile information on select partner sites like Yahoo, Photobucket, Twitter, and eBay.

That was Thursday, and on Friday Facebook unveiled Facebook Connections, an extension of the wildly popular third party application platform, which allows Facebookers to take their profile, friends, and interactions to any participating third party website.

Google Friend Connect seems to take it one step further by being virtually all-network-inclusive. Without knowing the first bit of code, webmasters can make it so visitors can interact with their friends as well as incorporate third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community.

"Google Friend Connect is about helping the ‘long tail’ of sites become more social," said David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google, in a statement. "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."

Google presents the example of indie musician Ingrid Michaelson’s incorporation of iLike, an OpenSocial application, on her website. Visitors to Michaelson’s site can see comments made by their friends, add music to their profiles, and see who is attending a concert.

Google Friend Connect, which the company touts will make "any app, any site, any friends" a reality, will be available to a select group following the close of Campfire One, a developers conference held at the Googleplex, so it’s not yet live. Webmasters wanting to participate in the preview release will have to sign on to a waiting list when the site goes live later today.