Yahoo Users Can Now Open a Google Account With OpenID
Google is now letting any Yahoo users sign in to Google using OpenID, the company announced Tuesday.
When you’re signing up for a Google account, there’s now a new button you can click on that says “Verify by signing in at Yahoo.com.” Click it, and you’re sent to Yahoo, where you’re asked to allow Google and Yahoo to link up your accounts.
Tuesday’s development marks Google’s first attempt to be an OpenID relying party — a website that accepts OpenID logins from third-party providers. Also, this only works for Yahoo users for now, but Google says it’s going to start offering support for other OpenID providers soon.
On the surface, this may look like an attempt by Google to poach users away from Yahoo by making it even easier for them to switch. In fact, it’s a real-world example of the type of interoperability that OpenID has been promising to bring to the open web for some time.
The more services, web apps and social networks we sign up for, the more places we have to create an account, remember a password, find friends, and build up a user profile. OpenID and the other twiddly bits in the “open stack” of social web technologies — like OAuth and Portable Contacts — make it easier for us to securely re-use this data across numerous websites and applications while only having to maintain one user account and one password at the provider of our choosing. With OpenID and OAuth, your data can easily be forklifted into other social networks with just a few clicks. OpenID currently powers the majority of third-party logins on the web.
This new Google/Yahoo system works because Yahoo is an OpenID provider. If you have a Yahoo account, you can use it to log in to any website that accepts OpenID. Google has simply started using the Yahoo OpenID API, the bit of code that makes it easier for third parties to create a simple, streamlined login experience for visitors who want to use their Yahoo ID to log in.
The same type of third-party login is possible using your Google account, since Google exposes the information necessary to make that happen in its own OpenID APIs.
So there’s no poaching happening here, just an open door policy on Yahoo’s end, and the implementation of one of Yahoo’s APIs on Google’s end.
Google is currently only offering OpenID logins for Yahoo users, the company says. The Google Code blog gives some more detail: “As [the new login feature] is based on an internet standard, we plan to use it in the future with other e-mail providers that add support for this usage of OpenID and related standards like OAuth, such as in the Microsoft Live identity APIs.”
Google is also experimenting with an OpenID/OAuth hybrid called Step2, which builds on similar community efforts to build a new system based on those two technologies. Among other things, these new hybrid systems aim to make the process less confusing for users, and to make OAuth sign-ins easier for applications that run on a phone or on the desktop rather than in a web browser.