Google Powers Up Google+ Social Sign-in

google+, google plus, social networks, social media, social sign-on, social log-inGoogle will now allow users to sign in to third-party apps using their Google+ log-in, the company said today.

Once logged in this way, users will be prompted to specify with which Google+ circles they want to share content. The log-in blocks the so-called “frictionless sharing” that Facebook introduced in early open-graph releases, inviting harsh criticism from users and privacy advocates.

“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),” wrote Seth Sternberg, director of product management for Google+.

Content shared from apps to Google+ using the social sign-on will feature custom actions, akin to Facebook’s open graph. For instance, if Devon shares a story from NPR to Google+, her friends will be able to click “listen” from within their Google+ streams. Other actions include “donate” and “add to cart.”

In a boon for developers, Google is also offering users the opportunity to download apps to their Android devices from the desktop Web. can download apps to mobile devices from web.

“One of the hardest things for any mobile company is app discovery and this is a developer’s dream,” said Damien Patton, the founder and CEO of the social app Banjo, which is one of the 10 apps tapped to pilot Google’s social sign-on.

Google may hope that easing discovery and download among Android users will help it compete for apps with iOS, which earns developers significantly more revenue.

And, any users who use the sign-in will likely count as active users of Google+, although a user need only have Google credentials, not specifically Google+, to use the feature. (We’ve reached out to Google to confirm and will update if we hear back.)

Also debuting the sign-on are Flixster, OpenTable and Shazam, a couple of newspapers and several retailers.

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