A big plus

Google+ opens API to app developers

Elliot Bentley
google-plus

Social network adds ability to send apps directly to phones, but keeps tight grip on full read/write access.

Google have expanded their social network’s API, adding
considerable integration with third-party services.

The new API goes much further than the
OpenID sign-in option
introduced in 2008, allowing users to
sign into iOS and Android apps with their Google account and
provides developers access to Google+ circles.

One key addition is that signed-in users on desktop can send
recommended Android apps to their phone without the fuss of
entering credentials or going through the Google Play store. Apps
can also post directly on behalf of users – albeit only with
explicit permission for each post – and new “interactive” posts can
link directly inside relevant apps.

The API supports most standard languages, including Java, .NET,
Python, PHP, JavaScript, Ruby and Google’s own creation, Go, as
well as Objective-C on iOS..

It’s the latest step in Google’s opening up of their social
network, which though initially launching without an API, has since
added hangout
apps
and social
games
. In contrast, Facebook and Twitter’s APIs allow full read
or write access, and have offered web and mobile app sign-in for
years.

The most glaring omission to the Google+ API is the ability to
quietly post on behalf of users, although this is unlikely to
change any time soon: last summer, Google+ VP Bradley Horowitz

claimed
that automated posts “don’t really work”.

Last month, it was
reported
that Google+ had a total of 343 million active users,
compared to 693m on Facebook and 288m on Twitter. However, it has
struggled to shake off a reputation for being a “ghost town”.

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