Google+ Sign-In aspires to be Facebook Login, but without the alleged spamming.
10 Social Networks For Special Interests
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)
Picking up where it left off with its Friend Connect service, Google has launched Google+ Sign-In, a way to use Google+ credentials to log into third-party websites and mobile apps.
Google introduced Friend Connect in late 2008, just as Facebook debuted Facebook Connect. Both companies were vying to become the default authentication layer for the Web, something Microsoft has been trying to do at least since its 2007 release of Windows Live ID Web Authentication SDK (now called simply Microsoft Account).
Facebook won, notwithstanding the recent bug that crashed websites using its authentication system. Facebook Connect went on to be re-branded Facebook Login and handles authentication for some 9 million websites and mobile apps. Google shut down Friend Connect in March 2012 as it shifted focus to Google+ services.
Now that Google has rehabilitated its social spine -- as the company sometimes refers to Google+ -- it is ready for a rematch against Facebook Login. As of December 2012, Google claimed that 500 million people have registered for Google+, that 235 million people interact with the service indirectly through +1 buttons and connecting with friends in Search and that 135 million engage with Google+ content streams (posts).
Google's effort to become an essential authentication provider isn't just about establishing legitimacy as a social gatekeeper. It's about revenue and customer relationships, because credit card and shipping data tends to end up being associated with identity data. It's about competing with other platform players -- like Apple, which had over 400 million iTunes Accounts last year and as of January had more than 250 million iCloud users; and Amazon, which has over 152 million active customer accounts.
But there's no mistaking Google's intention to challenge Facebook in particular. In a blog post, Seth Sternberg, director of product management for Google+, makes Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg's conceit of "frictionless sharing" sound like a bad encounter with a skunk.
"With Google+ Sign-In and circles you decide who to share with, if at all," Sternberg said. "In addition, Google+ doesn't let apps spray 'frictionless' updates all over the stream, so app activity will only appear when it's relevant -- like when you're actually looking for it."
Google's promise, then, is that Google+ provides more control over how content is shared, thereby creating less unwelcomed sharing, which some users consider spam.
For developers, Google+ Sign-In, like Facebook Login, provides both advantages and disadvantages. On the plus side, using Google+ Sign-In is likely to be easier than coding a custom authentication system and is probably more secure. Google is also making it easier to install Android apps from websites that include Google+ Sign-In. Downloading an Android app from Google Play to an Android device now can be initiated through a publisher's website with a single click.
On the minus side, three's a crowd when it comes to business relationships. Developers who abstain from engaging with customers allow Google to consummate that relationship. Not only does this make developers more beholden to Google (or Facebook), it can also work against them: If customers aren't comfortable with the privacy practices of the authentication provider, they may decline to use the developer's software or service.
In short, developers should think carefully about whether implementing Google+ Sign-In signs away too much.
Attend Interop Las Vegas, May 6-10, and attend the most thorough training on Apple Deployment at the NEW Mac & iOS IT Conference. Use Priority Code DIPR02 by March 2 to save up to $500 off the price of Conference Passes. Join us in Las Vegas for access to 125+ workshops and conference classes, 350+ exhibiting companies, and the latest technology. Register for Interop today!
How Enterprises Are Attacking the IT Security EnterpriseTo learn more about what organizations are doing to tackle attacks and threats we surveyed a group of 300 IT and infosec professionals to find out what their biggest IT security challenges are and what they're doing to defend against today's threats. Download the report to see what they're saying.
2017 State of IT ReportIn today's technology-driven world, "innovation" has become a basic expectation. IT leaders are tasked with making technical magic, improving customer experience, and boosting the bottom line -- yet often without any increase to the IT budget. How are organizations striking the balance between new initiatives and cost control? Download our report to learn about the biggest challenges and how savvy IT executives are overcoming them.