The outcry for the demise of Google Reader has obscured some other notable cuts. Google is consigning more of its APIs, utilities and services to its ever-expanding trash can. Can it justify this behavior or is it a case of this giant can do exactly what it wants without regard for users?
Last week we reported that Google Reader is to close on July 1st, but it is only one of several casualties of another round of Google's spring cleaning operations.
For anyone who is using App Scripts there's another potential body blow that may leave you breathless at Google's behavior - GUI Builder the visual tool that allows users to assemble a user interface in Google Apps Script without writing code is being discontinued.
Google is deprecating it to concentrate instead on the Html Service that it introduced last year to perform a similar function. There is a third way to create a user interface in Ui Service. Although this isn't being deprecated entirely, five of its widgets:
will cease to function on September 16, the same date that GUI Builder become unavailable, although existing components created using it will still function.
Here is the rest of the list:
CalDAV API an experimental interface for use by developers of calendar client applications, will become available only to whitelisted developers, and will be shut down for other developers on September 16, 2013. Developers who want to use this API after this date are invited to fill out a form outlining their use case to request access to whitelisted-only CalDAV API.
Search API for Shopping, which has enabled developers to create shopping apps based on Google’s Product Search data, is to shut down on September 16, 2013. The blog announcment states:
While we believe in the value this offering provided, we’re shifting our focus to concentrate on creating a better shopping experience for users through Google Shopping.
Google Building Maker, which helps people to make three-dimensional building models for Google Earth and Maps is being retired on June 1, but users are still able to access and export their models from the 3D Warehouse.
Google Cloud Connect, a plug-in to help people work in the cloud by automatically saving Microsoft Office files from Windows PCs in Google Drive will become unavailable on April 30. Google points out that installing Google Drive on your desktop achieves the same thing more effectively and works not only on Windows, but also on Mac, Android and iOS devices.
Google Voice App for Blackberry is no longer supported. Blackberry users who want to continue using Google Voice are recommend to use Google's HTML5 app, compatible with Blackberry version 6 and newer.
Snapseed Desktop for Macintosh and Windows is no longer being sold or updated although existing customers will continue to be able to download the software and can contact Google for support, and the free Snapseed mobile app on iOS and Android will continue to be available
It may be the case that only a small number of users will be affected by the closures and restrictions listed above, but if you are one of them you may well feel aggrieved at Google's attitude - just as much as the millions of Google Reader users. Google is being very successful in creating an increasing air of distrust. Now when there is a new API from Google developers really are thinking quite hard about alternatives before having to commit to a relationship that offers no promises about how long it will last.
When a company offers a free service you might say that it is obvious that no such promises are made. But when a big company puts its resources into providing a free service it pushes alternatives out of the market. When it withdraws that service the user has few alternatives and even fewer good alternatives. Overall the result is the market is distorted and damaged. Perhaps large companies should only be allowed to offer a free service if it is accompanied by an "in perpetuity" clause or a promise to open source the code should it fail.