I just read an article about Facebook Connect and Google Friend Connect that was mainly focused on their similarities and differences. I wanted to respond to that article by adding in CloudShout to the mix.
The main similarity mentioned is “to maintain and add social network applications to other websites”. This is a core function of CloudShout. CloudShout allows you to interact with not only your friends on third-party websites, but also other visitors that have the potential to become your friends.
Then the article begins to mention differences. The biggest difference mentioned is expansiveness and compatibility.
The compatibility part comes down to how you log into the service. With Facebook Connect, you log in with your Facebook account, and use the social graph you’ve built up while using Facebook. With Google Friend Connect, you can log in with “virtually any social network”. I’m not sure how many social networks have tied into this actually, but it does make sense to leverage the graphs produced in any (or better yet, all) social network you are a member of. CloudShout is similar to Facebook, in that you need an IZEA account to power your social graph. I believe Google Friend Connect has the best option here and we will look at how to add similar capabilities in future releases of CloudShout.
The article then talks about the complexity in adding the service to your site or blog. The winner, in that article, is Google. However, CloudShout, I would say, is even simpler. There is no .html files to add, just register your blog and paste in two bits of code. See this video for more information.
The article does not go into using Google Friend Connect to add OpenSocial widgets to a site, and I haven’t had the chance to see what it takes to do that. But in CloudShout, to add new functionality to the core app, all you do is click a button and it’s loaded. For instance, if you see other site visitors using the Twitter app, then you can click “Install this app” right from the blog you are on and it is instantly available there and other CloudShout powered sites you visit. You can even install apps to your blog from another blog (if you see something that blog has that you’d like to have on yours) without looking at html code, or even being at your blog.
I wish I had more time to play with Google Friend Connect and Facebook Connect to get my own perspective on the what works and what doesn’t to understand where CloudShout lags behind, but right now, I’m confident that CloudShout is currently a better product for actually doing social stuff on sites that are not social networks.
What really matters most to me, though, is what CloudShout users think are the features they need, and what I have been listening to since day one.
If you are interested, there is a CloudShout channel on Vimeo that show the different parts of CloudShout in action.