Google’s new social tool Google Plus has barely been released for two weeks, but already it’s seeming like the feature most needed is an API. The most popular functionality of Google Plus, sharing content with one’s “circles,” is similar to what users are already doing on Twitter and Facebook. Perhaps the delay in releasing a Google Plus API is about forcing people to give Google’s interface a go?
Again, it’s only been two weeks. But an API for this new communication tool is not without reasonable expectations. Google launched its Google Buzz API right along with Buzz itself, wasting no time. A few months later, Google Wave had an API when it was announced.
Perhaps these two data points are all the more reason for Google not to immediately provide an API for Google Plus. Neither Wave nor Buzz gained the traction Google had hoped, with Wave’s API closed last August.
Still, if Plus is to succeed, it needs to be integrated into other workflows. Users will want applications on every platform. Creators of every last obscure piece of social software will want to connect to Google Plus. And users of other companies’ solutions will want to see all their social interactions in one place. Developers are already trying to merge Google Plus and Facebook, as ReadWriteWeb wrote.
For the Google Plus API, it’s not a matter of whether, but when. There’s an API signup page which solicits not only contact information, but reasons that developers are excited about the API. It seems Google wants use cases before giving developers something to use. It’s smart, but to a developer wanting to integrate now, it can be frustrating.
But the low-hanging fruit for developers now is aggregation and syndication, which would mean spitting Google Plus content out to competitors, or bringing content from competitors into Google Plus. And it would mean mucking up the streams, much as tweets on Facebook can be messy. It seems Google might be wanting to avoid that, hoping developers might choose more interesting projects that take advantage of Google Plus itself, rather than turning it into yet another status system.
What do you think? What would you do with a Google Plus API?