All posts tagged ‘igoogle’

File Under: Web Services

Google to Shut Down iGoogle

Image: THOR/Flickr

Google is cleaning house again. This time the company is shutting down five services.

Google has a long history of unceremoniously killing off its less-used services, having previously axed once-high-profile efforts like Wave, Buzz, Knol and Gears, among others.

The most notable Google service on the chopping block this time is iGoogle, the company’s customizable homepage. Similar to Netvibes, MyYahoo or the now defunct PageFlakes, iGoogle was a dashboard for the web, allowing users to embed gadgets like weather, email and news.

When iGoogle first launched in 2005 it was something of a me-too effort, duplicating features found in other services, but adding numerous Google-centric gadgets. Eventually iGoogle’s gadget selection grew to encompass everything from feed readers to web-based games.

Citing the growth of mobile and web apps that “put personalized, real-time information at your fingertips,” Google says “the need for iGoogle has eroded over time.”

Fans of iGoogle don’t need to panic just yet, Google doesn’t plan to completely shut the service down until November 1, 2013. Presumably Google sees Google+ as a replacement. Other alternatives include Netvibes and PageFlakes, which both offer similar widget-based dashboard home pages. [Update: PageFlakes ceased operation in January 2012. Other possible replacements for iGoogle include UStart and ProtoPage.]

The other four services on Google’s spring cleaning shortlist include a Symbian search app, Google Talk Chatback (an embeddable Google Talk widget), Google Video, which long ago stopped taking new uploads, and Google Mini, part of Google’s enterprise search service.

File Under: Uncategorized

Go Go Gadget OAuth Support

I Can Has Open

Passwords are a little bit more secure now that Google added OAuth support to its iGoogle Gadgets. Developers can now use their gadgets to easily grab data from OAuth-enabled APIs. Using OAuth, users do not have to give their passwords to developers. Instead, if a developer wants data from a service, the user enters the password into the service itself, providing the developer permission to access their data.

MySpace updates, AOL Mail and Google Book Search are the first gadgets to use OAuth. Finding the MySpace gadget via the iGoogle search is difficult, as there are pages of results by non-MySpace developers. Some of these ask for your password in an insecure manner, without OAuth. If you have a MySpace account, try adding the official MySpace gadget.

MySpace OAuth experience from Google Gadget

Adding the MySpace gadget gives a good idea of the user experience provided by the OAuth process. Rather than username/password fields within the iGoogle box, there’s a sign in button. Click it, and an OAuth page pops up providing a MySpace login page. Once you’ve signed in, the popup disappears and the gadget is populated with your MySpace data: updates, status, bulletins, and inbox.

Behind the scenes there is an exchange of keys that ensures the gadget maker really does have your permission to access the data. Those keys are permanent, so the sign in process is a one time deal for each OAuth gadget, not something you’ll have to do every time you visit your iGoogle page. For an example of how OAuth works, check out my FireEagle tutorial.

The update to gadgets is world’s beyond password-sharing, but there should still be phishing worries. Emulating the popup process would be easy and there’s nothing to signify that the page I’m seeing really is MySpace. Luckily, that’s the same problem that many are already trying to fix. A solution to the problem for banking sites, for example, will probably be the same solution for OAuth.

[Photo by Eran Sandler]

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