Google has launched the long awaited first API for Google + together with a new site for developers. Has it been worth the wait?
This initial API release is pretty limited. It is restricted to public data letting you read only the information that people have shared publicly on Google+. You have read-only access to people, post, checkins, and shares.
However, it is a start and we will be looking out for more functionality in future releases.
Chris Chabot has posted a helpful introductory article "Getting started on the Google+ API" on the Google+ Platform blog and you can dowload Client Libraries from the new Google+ Platform site for developers.
The API is based on REST and uses JSON but there are libraries for a range of languages. The ones currently available in beta are for .NET, Java, PHP and Python and there are alpha versions for Google Web Toolkit, Objective C and Ruby. Starter projects, which include everything needed to use OAuth authentication and demonstrate a few simple API calls are currently provided for Java, PHP, Python and Ruby.
The new developer site has a discussion forum and a Best Practices page in addition to information and downloads.
It was surprising that Google+ launched without an API, even an alpha API would have at least given application developers a head start. Now we have a read-only API that amounts to little more than a feed of the data that a user makes public.
Given how important apps have been to the growth of Twitter, and to a lesser extent Facebook, you have to ask why Google is being so slow. The most obvious explanation is that it is worried about losing control of the social media it has created. This is backed up by the fact that this first API is read-only. How can you build a Twitter or Facebook stream uploader using a read-only API? You can't!
Google needs to let Google+ go free in the developer's universe if it is to grow in features and facilities and hence users.
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