The Latest News On The API Economy
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We've covered Factual a number of times, most recently asking if it will become the go-to location database. Now the company has expanded its offering with improved datasets, new datasets and a new iPhone SDK. Its local data now covers 27 countries and contains more than 30 million individual business listings.
Access to software that performs complex operations has been, and can still be, costly. Paying for expensive licenses can mean an alternative solution has to be sought or worse still, a feature won't be developed at all. Thanks to virtualization and a many other cloud features, we've seen these complex operations offered as services at a fraction of the cost. One such complex operation is that of facial recognition. This software hasn't seemed accessible at all with only applications such as Google Picasa, Apple's iPhoto, Facebook and more recently XBox Kinect being the most obvious examples where it has been used. These are big companies with big money to spend. This now changes as Face.com is offering a free to use face recognition API for photos.
We all know we can search web pages for text, but many services are looking to go above and beyond with features like location and face tagging. The big downside to these features is that they rely on end users have to manually enter in the appropriate data. Really, when was the last time you tagged all the people in the 200 photos you just uploaded to Facebook? To help automate the process of face recognition, face.com have just opened their API.
The geo mapping platform ecosystem has grown a little more as the competition between Google Maps and Bing Maps just got a lot more interesting. It's been less than a week since we covered the release of a variety of new features for Bing Maps, including the addition of new StreetSide panoramic imagery similar to that used in Google Maps StreetView. At the time, it seems that Bing Maps was making a move to "catch up" with Google Maps in terms of immersive street-level panoramic photos. And now Google has countered back with the release of "aerial perspective imagery" similar to the Bird's Eye View imagery used in Google Maps.
Microsoft has announced its new Facebook SDK, which allows developers using Microsoft technologies to quickly create web client (via Silverlight), web server (via ASP.NET) and desktop (via WinForms and WPF) applications that harness the power of the Facebook API.
If you're interested in learning more about the new Google Wave platform and API we covered last month, then take a look at this new post on the Google Wave Developer Blog from Google's Pamela Fox. It discusses a recent Wave API hackathon that occurred shortly after the Google I/O conference.
Google has announced some new features available for its OpenID API. As some of our readers may remember, earlier this year Google released a "Hybrid Protocol" API that combines an OpenID federated login with OAuth access authorization. The API has been enhanced with some extended Attribute Exchange fields and a pop-up user interface for the user-facing approval page.
Earlier this week Microsoft announced that it is making some of the imagery used in its Virtual Earth platform available for purchase (more on Virtual Earth in our VE SDK profile). The imagery, taken with Microsoft's proprietary UltraCam shown below is available for approximately 200 cities (in high resolution and averaging less than two years old).