Social networks like Facebook and MySpace are often just one click of a bookmark away on users’ web browsers. Google looks to be one-upping them by turning its personalized home page, iGoogle, into a social network of sorts.
With the new developer sandbox for iGoogle, Google is offering hints of what could be a very grand scheme. The video Google has released (embedded below) is front-loaded with what seems to be routine updates for what developers can do with iGoogle. However, towards the end we’re hit with code for accessing friends’ data and yes, creating an all important (in this day and age of social networks), friends’ activity stream.
Who needs to login to Facebook when all your friend’s updates are right there on your homepage? That may be exactly what Google is hoping users start asking themselves.
This is made possible by OpenSocial, the API (application programming interface) designed to let developers build social applications that run on various web properties that support it. MySpace, as well as Yahoo, both recently teamed up with Google in supporting the OpenSocial initiative. Many other social networks have pledged support as well, with the one notable expection being Facebook.
Facebook is the service that made the activity stream popular (it calls it the “News Feed”). It recently unveiled an update that allows users to import other data into that feed as well. This is an attempt to make Facebook your one-stop-shop for all the updates you need. However, unlike other information aggregators, Facebook does not allow you to export this data. We call that lock-in and Google will need to convince users that they don’t need that Facebook data.
It is worth noting that Google’s rival, Microsoft, owns a percentage of Facebook. Can you say, social war?
Not all the tools are in place yet to make iGoogle a fully functional social network. It doesn’t appear that you’ll be able to update everything from this page, just pull in updates, but you can bet on that being an expanding option down the road
Even after OpenSocial was announced last year it seemed a bit vague how Google planned to tie everything together socially. You do, after all, need a main starting point to send people. It may just have that now with iGoogle.
Watch the official Google video below: