The first wave of applications built on Google's OpenSocial APIs is set for liftoff in the next few weeks as MySpace, Orkut, and Hi5 make the final push to release their software.
I spoke with David Glazer, director of engineering at Google, at the Graphing Social Patterns conference, who told me that it's "pizza time" for the developers, meaning they are putting in long hours to deliver the apps sooner than later.
The OpenSocial APIs allow developers to create apps that access a social network's friends and update feeds without modification for compliant platforms. The OpenSocial APIs are in version .7, after starting at .5, if you can follow the versioning logic. Whatever the case, future iterations will be backward compatible with the .7 spec, Glazer said.
Google has also introduced a Social Graph API, which exposes information about the public connections between people (expressed by XFN and FOAF markup languages) and other publicly declared connections accessible to developers. Glazer said that the Social Graph API is on a slower track than the OpenSocial API. "We are expecting it to be a long, slow ramp," Glazer said.
It's difficult to set user expectations for pervasive social applications because most users have no expectations about where to give control and allow for discovery, Glazer said. The use cases have not been well defined for how social graph data should be used in a way that protects privacy and provides enough granularity and ease of use to satisfy a broad range of users. "We'll just let the savvy developers build on it and see what works," Glazer said.
The barriers to injecting the social graph into the core of the Web aren't technological. OATH, OpenID, OpenSocial APIs, and the Social Graph API can be combined to provide the underlying infrastructure for unleashing the social Web fabric, Glazer said. It's people getting comfortable with the user experience of the social Web, just as they did in a past era with the experience of Caller ID.