March 26th, 2008 | Published in Google OpenSocial
Whether you're an applications developer or a container developer, OpenSocial enables you to create new and innovative experiences for your users. Today, I'd like to show you one of the ways we've been thinking about the user experience of a container like orkut.
You've probably noticed that with many social platforms, you need to install an application before using it. This can involve making decisions about sharing information with the app, the app posting activities on your behalf, and the app having real-estate on your profile. Often, this happens before you've even had a chance to use the application.
In this video, we've imagined a different kind of container: one that lets users interact with applications without installing them. This allows users to make educated decisions about what their applications can access and how their applications will behave. The lower the barrier to using an application, the more applications people will try. The more applications people try, the more likely they are to find something they truly enjoy. And when someone truly enjoys an application and does invite his/her friends, that invitation will carry with it extraordinary value and significance for users and developers alike.
Again, this is just a mock-up of what a few applications running in orkut could look like:
For a higher-quality, but larger version, click here.
With OpenSocial, it's possible to create environments where applications can spread because they provide great user experiences. The metric for success would be not the number of installs an application receives, but user engagement and happiness. Environments that focus on more than viral growth cultivate healthy, organic growth and usage. This contributes to the long-term sustainability of social platforms for both users and developers.
To that end, you'll notice there are a number of functions in the OpenSocial API starting with "request" (e.g. requestShareApp, requestSendMessage). These functions define an agreement between the applications developer and the host container that allows the container to optionally prompt the user for more input, or simply deny the request. While each container will be able to define its own policy, we encourage apps developers and containers to take advantage of these functions to create an "install-free" user experience.
Social platforms are quickly evolving, and what we've shown you here today isn't necessarily what you'll see in orkut tomorrow. It's a look at a few of the things we're thinking about here at the Googleplex. I'm excited to hear your feedback and thoughts on the discussion board.