Google announces preview release of Friend Connect

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To assist Web site owners with adding social networking features to their sites, Google has announced a preview release of its Friend Connect service.

According to the search giant, “visitors to any site using Google Friend Connect will be able to see, invite, and interact with new friends using secure authorization APIs [application programming interfaces], with existing friends from social sites on the Web, including Facebook, Google Talk, Hi5, Orkut, Plaxo and more.”

Google's news follows recent announcements by social networks Facebook and MySpace that they will allow users to access and use their profile information when visiting other sites. 

In a conference call today, David Glazer, director of engineering at Google, described Friend Connect as the “next step in the growth of the social Web.” For Web site owners, it will drive more traffic and for application developers, it will provide more reach, he said.

According to Google, by using the feature, Web site owners will be able to simply “add a snippet of code” in order to add social features to their sites. They will also be able to pick and choose the features they want to add “like user registration, invitations, members gallery, message posting, and reviews, as well as third-party applications built by the OpenSocial developer community,” Google said.

Starting tonight, anyone interested in using Friend Connect can sign up at www.google.com/friendconnect to be “whitelisted,” Glazer said. This site is not yet live. Over the next couple of months, selected whitelisted sites will be selected from the wait list to participate.

Ingrid Michaelson, an independent musician, has already added music features from iLike with Friend Connect on her Web site, Glazer said.

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