Flipboard users are about to see something new in their streams. Google has partnered with social news reader Flipboard to include Google+ content. Does this mean that Google Current is old news?
Flipboard, Now with More Google Plus
Social newsreader Flipboard seems to be the only mobile newsreader that’s managing to achieve any lasting success. Last month rumors circulated that Yahoo was about to abandon Livestand, its Flipboard clone released in February 2011. Google released its own newsreader, Current, in early April, but it hasn’t gained any significant adoption. Flipboard is a Current competitor. In fact, it is the Current competitor, but Google has decided expanding the reach of Google+ is more important than being staunchly loyal to Current.
Google’s Vice President of Product Management, Bradley Horowitz announced a new partnership with Flipboard that will give the application access to Google+ photos, posts and videos. Users will be able to view the content, create posts and comment, and the app will also support Google+ circles.
Flipboard already integrates with a long list of other services like Facebook, Instagram, Twitter and Tumblr. Google couldn’t really afford not to add its name to that list even if Flipboard is a competitor and currently iOS only.
The new integration supports reading and writing Google+ content within Flipboard, which is interesting because to date Google has not allowed third party to modify (write) content in Google+. Writes are not possible with the service’s existing anemic public API.
Flipboard will use a new, more comprehensive Google+ API that is not yet publicly available. Google has been hesitant to release a full public API because it wants to avoid making the same mistake Twitter and Facebook made -- changing rules, breaking API changes and poor performance -- that can alienate developers.
Google’s caution is warranted, but the continued lack of a comprehensive API for its social network has been a large barrier to the development of third party applications, and perhaps to the growth of Google+ as a whole.
What This Means
Google has not released a launch date for the Flipboard integration. However, Horowitz did discuss the future of the Google+ API. Google has been testing a new version of its Google+ API since November with a small number of partners. The company plans to roll out the update in the coming months.
Google is actively trying to evolve its public image from search provider to a fabric for how users experience the Internet, and Google+ is a big part of that picture. Google is focused on the long term.
Many users already leverage Google for search and email. Adding social to the mix creates a sticky ecosystem with users likely to try other Google services. Google+ could also become an invaluable source of data that Google could use to refine search and ad targeting. Google will continue to make decisions that bolster the social network even if means another product, like Current, has to absorb a bit of negative impact.