Google+ opens up - a new Hangouts API
Written by Alex Armstrong   
Wednesday, 21 September 2011

Google continues the gradual release of bits of the Google+ platform API. Now we have the Hangouts API, and a hint that the Games API may be ready next month.

Google+ has thrown open its doors to the general public and you can now join without getting an invite from an existing user. It remains to be seen if the loss of exclusivity will be a plus or a minus for plus. Whatever happens in the short term it is clear that this is the start of the long haul for Google+ to see if it can establish itself as the Number One social site.

One thing working in its favor is, of course, the fact that Google has a huge advertising capacity that it can swing behind Google+. You can see this in action at the moment if you visit the main search page. Given that Google has never modified its main page to advertise any of its other ventures, you can take this as an indication of how seriously it takes Google+ . Either that, or the idea has only just occurred to someone!




Google+ may have just embraced the world but the developer community has been, and is still being, kept out of the loop.

When +  was launched there was no API of any kind and we were asked to wait and be patient while Google figured out how to provide an API. Eventually an API was announced, but it's not exactly full-featured. In fact some might describe it as crippled as it only allows read-only access to data. It can be described as safe but dull.

You might even think that Google is reluctant to give up control of even a little bit of its new empire.

Now we have another fragment of the API, Google+ Hangouts API. This is a little more interesting and has possibility. You can write an app that runs inside a Google+ Hangout. You can modify the user-interface, synchronize data and respond to events. The demo app changes the standard avatar to a talking Android to give you some idea of what you could do with it.




This is a step in the right direction but when it comes to games we are still waiting.. Google currently offers a small number of games produced by a few companies who got details of the API first. The rest of us just have to wait until Google decides we can be trusted.

Notice that it isn't a case of having to create an API; clearly one exists. My guess is that the raw API issued to the first games creators is in the process of being tidied up - perhaps even restricted in various ways to make sure that we are under control. It is now rumored that the game API will be released in November - which is just in time to get a game ready for Xmas, I suppose. Currently it seems that Google will take 5% of the purchase price from any games you submit.

Even though things are starting to move, it is difficult not to feel that Google really is keeping developers at arms length. This is not the Google we are used to.




More Information

Google+ an API to get you started?

Hangouts API


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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 September 2011 )