Photo: Getty Images / Justin Sullivan
Just try to get a Google executive to say “Facebook.” Try it!Google executives are carefully trained to avoid mentioning Facebook by name. Instead, they refer to “other social competitors,” or if pressed, “a certain competitor.”
Which is why it was amusing to see how Google danced around how its new Google+ sign-in feature compared to Facebook’s near-ubiquitous Facebook Connect, a technology which allows websites and apps to log users in with their Facebook accounts and share actions on Facebook.
Here’s what Google’s Seth Sternberg wrote:
Google+ doesn’t let apps spray “frictionless” updates all over the stream, so app activity will only appear when it’s relevant (like when you’re actually looking for it).
That’s as explicit a dig at Facebook as one can imagine seeing from Google, since Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg unveiled the concept of “frictionless” sharing in 2011.
Frictionless sharing refers to the practice of letting music, fitness, and news-reading apps automatically share a user’s activity with friends without requiring them to explicitly click a series of buttons to share it on Facebook.
It was meant to increase overall sharing activity on Facebook, but it ran into problems. Ordinary users were less concerned about the privacy issues pundits raised than the user-interface challenges it presented — for example, the way news-reading apps insisted that you install them before you could even read an article. (Hardly frictionless.)
Facebook, well aware of the problems frictionless sharing presented, has pulled back considerably on the idea. Frictionless sharing is basically dead, with both Facebook and app developers having moved on to more subtle ways of encouraging users to share updates.
So it’s great that Google thinks it can improve on sharing app activity. But the truth is, its slap is coming a year and a half too late.