Google Plus API: Is it Intentionally Late?

Adam DuVander
Jul. 12 2011, 12:00AM EDT

Google's new social tool Google Plus has barely been released for two weeks, but already it's seeming like the feature most needed is an API. The most popular functionality of Google Plus, sharing content with one's "circles," is similar to what users are already doing on Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps the delay in releasing a Google Plus API is about forcing people to give Google's interface a go?

Again, it's only been two weeks. But an API for this new communication tool is not without reasonable expectations. Google launched its Google Buzz API right along with Buzz itself, wasting no time. A few months later, Google Wave had an API when it was announced.

Perhaps these two data points are all the more reason for Google not to immediately provide an API for Google Plus. Neither Wave nor Buzz gained the traction Google had hoped, with Wave's API closed last August.

Still, if Plus is to succeed, it needs to be integrated into other workflows. Users will want applications on every platform. Creators of every last obscure piece of social software will want to connect to Google Plus. And users of other companies' solutions will want to see all their social interactions in one place. Developers are already trying to merge Google Plus and Facebook, as ReadWriteWeb wrote.

For the Google Plus API, it's not a matter of whether, but when. There's an API signup page which solicits not only contact information, but reasons that developers are excited about the API. It seems Google wants use cases before giving developers something to use. It's smart, but to a developer wanting to integrate now, it can be frustrating.

But the low-hanging fruit for developers now is aggregation and syndication, which would mean spitting Google Plus content out to competitors, or bringing content from competitors into Google Plus. And it would mean mucking up the streams, much as tweets on Facebook can be messy. It seems Google might be wanting to avoid that, hoping developers might choose more interesting projects that take advantage of Google Plus itself, rather than turning it into yet another status system.

What do you think? What would you do with a Google Plus API?

Adam DuVander Hi! I'm Developer Communications Director for SendGrid and former Executive Editor of ProgrammableWeb. I currently serve as a Contributing Editor. If you have API news, or are interested in writing for ProgrammableWeb, please contact editor@programmableweb.com Though I'm a fan of anything API-related, my particular interest is in mapping. I've published a how-to book, Map Scripting 101, to get anyone started making maps on websites. In a not-so-distant past life I wrote for Wired and Webmonkey.

Comments

Comments(19)

I want to create custom Circle management/creation plug-ins. If they provide the proper hooks in their API, especially a callback mechanism for when critical Circle operations take place, I think a lot could be done to automate and enhance a lot of the Circles functionality. Right now, it's sometimes cloudy as to where a shared item actually ends up, and how to control Plus stream content on a more granular level than what appears to be available. Custom "rule engines" could do a lot here to create new Circle templates like a "sharing professional scientific documents" or a "fast share of instant cam photos to friends" template.

-- roschler

[...] With the introduction of Facebook Video Chat  and Google Plus Group Chat via the Hangouts feature, the question now becomes whether these Social Networks will be the primary place for Live Chat or Phone Support?  My personal prediction is that we are about 1 year away from Voice over IP calls for Customer Service happening directly on a company Facebook or Google Plus site.  The challenge will be investigating how these existing features integrate into existing CRM platforms that companies already are using.   Google Plus has yet to announce an API. [...]

[...] Google also received its share of negative comments, though they were spread across several services. Two developers mentioned the Google Buzz API, which did not launch with the service. Two more complained that the Google Plus API is not available. [...]

Technically Google Plus has not yet been "released". I believe the term Google are using is a "field trial" and I would hope that Google will be making changes based on user feedback. Google really can't launch an API with the risk of having to make changes to it in the next few months, that would be a sure fire way to annoy developers.

I think if ever there was pressure to get the API right, this is it. With an expected number of users at 20 million + by this weekend, the pressure is on Google to deliver an API that can straight off allow people to write the most popular applications available on Facebook (of course with a twist).

Experienced developers are going to dash out of the starting blocks immediately to gain early advantage and the backlash could be large if the API does not meet expectations.

Its not just a question of getting this API going fine but also the fact that the Google API ecosystem is large and people will want to integrate with various Google services (Gmail, GDocs, etc) immediately. I think serious organizational workflow applications could be possible here especially if it plays well with Google Apps.

Whilst in principle I always want an API on a web-service from the get-go, I think Google is right to delay the roll-out in this case.

One of the things that killed Buzz stone-dead was that everyone came in, added their Twitter/Facebook/Flickr/Reader feeds and then left. The number of actual humans on Buzz collapsed to almost nothing within a few weeks.

By forcing people to manually engage on the platform first, Google has a much better chance with Plus. The longer they wait, the more likely the social media "mavens" are to disappear and then normal people can power the service.

I built the service "Syyncc" (http://my.syyn.cc) over a year ago, to tie Facebook and Buzz accounts together. I'm waiting to be able to fully integrate Google+ into this.

In fact I didn't actually wait, I built my own rudimentary read-only API (http://point7.wordpress.com/2011/07/10/rudimentary-googleplus-api/) using the html from the Profile page, and made a read only connection from G+ to Facebook and Buzz, which people may want to check out.

Now, I really, really want a proper API so I can make the G+ connection work in both directions!