According to the Mountain View, Calif.-based company, any Web site owner can add "a snippet of code" to the Web site to get social features such as user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting and reviews. It also allows you to add third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community. The features can run immediately, without programming, according to Google, which announced a preview release of the service at its Campfire One event at its Googleplex.
Visitors to any site can see, invite or interact with other users using secure authorization APIs, with existing friends from social sites on the Web, including Facebook, Google Talk, hi5, orkut, Plaxo, and more, according to the company.
In a release, the company used an example in which fans of independent musician Ingrid Michaelson now can connect with other fans without having to leave the site. Visitors can see comments by friends from their social networks, add music to their profiles, see who is attending concerts, and enjoy other features of the iLike application, all at Michaelson's Web site.
Google Friend Connect was developed to enable Web sites to enable social networking with friends, but also to reduce the number of new logins and the recreation of friends' lists across multiple sites or applications, according to the company.
"Google Friend Connect is about helping the 'long tail' of sites become more social," said David Glazer, a director of engineering at Google, in a statement. "Many sites aren't explicitly social and don't necessarily want to be social networks, but they still benefit from letting their visitors interact with each other. That used to be hard."
An emerging wave of social standards, including OpenID, OAuth, OpenSocial, and the data access APIs published by Facebook, Google, MySpace, and others, allows Google Friend Connect to "build on these standards to let people easily connect with their friends, wherever they are on the web, making 'any app, any site, any friends' a reality," Glazer said in the statement.
Google believes Google Friend Connect can help Web site owners drive more traffic, increase engagement and more easily and cheaply add social components to the Web site.