Google Releases Contacts API

Right on the heels of Yahoo's launch this morning of their new Fire Eagle API, Google has just released their latest API, the Google Contacts Data API. And it's likely to get put to a lot of use. As Google's DeWitt Clinton describes: "the Contacts API can be used to safely read, create, edit, and delete contact information stored with Google, all while keeping users' passwords private via delegated Authentication and authorization." This is the same list that's shared among Google applications like Gmail, Reader, Calendar, and others. We have created this new Google Contacts API profile with more details.

Sebastian Kanthak, from the Google Contacts team in his post 3. 2. 1. Contact. The API has landed, outlines some example use cases:

  • Import a user's Google contacts into their web or desktop application
  • Export their application's contact list to Google
  • Write sync applications for mobile devices or popular, desktop-based contact management applications

The API uses the Google Data protocol which is based on AtomPub (the same standard that Microsoft is now adopting). All contacts feeds are private and apps can use either the Google Client Authentication API or the Google Web Auth API for authenticating. Thus applications can use these mechanisms without having direct access to a user's Google credentials. As Sebastian notes, "We hope that APIs like this one mean you will never have to give out your username and password to other sites again. Please encourage all sites you use to switch to this API for accessing your Google contact data."

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