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We use FriendFeed here at the office to share links and discuss news. A week or so ago the service launched a big redesign that added features. You can now use it entirely by email, for example. Stories show up realtime. And you can sign up using your Twitter, Facebook or Gmail account.
Best of all, though, because Twitter, Gmail (and to a lesser extent, Facebook) have adopted open protocols for doing this, your site can do what FriendFeed did.
This kind of cross-service sign-on takes away one more hurdle for people to try your service. It can help folks know where to start with your app by connecting them with people they know.
This changes where you can find users. It changes how widely you can cast your net to reach them, and it impacts what you might offer those supporters. More about this in a minute. First, though, let’s take a look at what I’m talking about, using FriendFeed as an example of what’s possible.
How FriendFeed’s Twitter sign-in works, in plain English
If you’d like to try this at home, visit http://friendfeed.com/ and click on the big Twitter “t” on the right side. (Or take a look at these screenshots of the FriendFeed signup process.) When you do that, FriendFeed does several things:
- Directs you to Twitter, which asks if it’s okay to give FriendFeed access to your tweets
- Grabs your bio and icon from Twitter, and imports your posts
- Searches for any of your Twitter friends who might already be on FriendFeed, then asks whether you want make them FriendFeed friends
This last point is huge. It’s a great example of software building on what’s familiar—Twitter in this case—to add its own value. Anecdotally, folks on FriendFeed are gaining lots of friends as they discover FriendFeeders they did not know were there.
This has the potential to impact all of your (and our) web efforts. Do you think this will take power away from the big web-based platforms?
What if one sunshiny future day web platforms were trampolines, not quicksand? Queue dramatic music as OpenID and OAuth take the stage…