Google API a Technology Review
16 Sep 2011
I was happy to see Google launch an API for Google + this week. I’m not chomping at the bit to build anything social on it, but I’m glad they made it public.
I wanted to take some time to review the API from a technology standpoint, and look at what possibilities it opens up for developers.
The Google + API provides a RESTful interface for the newly launched Google social network, Google +, and provides access to profile data and activity streams. The API uses OAuth for authentication and JSON for its request and response formats.
That’s it. Pretty underwhelming from a developers perspective. I’ll be able to make some badges or widgets, maybe stream my activities in the sidebar of my Wordpress blog. Where is my photo access (wait that is in Picassa), or my video access (wait that is in Youtube), or my social events (wait that is in Google Calendar)?
Ok, forget about about other content, what about my write access? I want to be able to write to my activity stream and update my profile. I want other apps that I authorize to be able to publish to my activity stream.
I'll stop there. Without write access, there is no use railing about lack of application platform, access to circles, and true data portability and ownership via the API.
In short, I think Google could have come out of the gate with a little more. Maybe linking up some of my other Google systems via my Google + profile, like Picassa images, and Youtube video. But more importantly developers should have write access. OAuth, plus write access to my social profile and activity stream should have been part of this release. It would have sent the right message to developers.
I also understand how hard all of this is for them. They have a lot to consider, and pleasing developers are only one piece of the puzzle. But as we’ve seen with Twilio and Twitter, your developer ecosystem can help make your platform have the applications and features users are looking for, making it a desirable place to be.
Platform success seems to come based upon the adoption of three key user groups: early adopters, developers and end-users. With Google + we’ve just experienced the early adopter phase, what sort of environment will Google provide for developers during the next phase of growth.