Alex Barnett blog


6 Google APIs - the Lesser Known

Adam Ostrow at Mashable has written up a non-technical introduction to Google's most popular APIs and links to some applications built using these.

His post prompted me to revisit Google's own Google APIs page this morning which lists some 36 services available to programmers. Although they are not all strictly APIs (some just provide RSS / Atom outputs) I thought I'd call out some of the lesser known Google APIs, six in all:

1. YouTube API

The YouTube video repository and user community are accessable via an API interface and RSS feeds (REST Interface or XML-RPC Interface) . Developers need a YouTube Developer Profile to gain access.

Example apps using YouTube API:

  • YouTube Coverpops
    Creates a mosaic of video stills; mouse over the one you want to pop up and watch.
  • YouTube Badge Maker
    Makes a code snippet that you can add to your website that shows stills from your six latest-uploaded videos.
  • Virtual Video Map
    Integrates video location with Google Maps—click on the map marker to see a video from that location.
  • YouTube Video Gallery Plugin
    Enables easy setup of video embeds and galleries into WordPress blogs, using video IDs.

2. Google Notebook API

Google Notebook is an online service (requires browser plugin) where you can store and organize clippings of text, images and links from web pages. The Google Notebook data API allows apps to view public notebook content in the form of Google data API ("GData") feeds such as request a list of a user's public notebooks, or query the content of an existing public notebook.

3. Google Search History Feeds - Feed your attention.

Not really an "API", probably knew Google tracks your search history. Did you know you can track your "web history" via an RSS feed?

4. Google Checkout API

"Start selling on your website"

There are two types of Google Checkout implementation options:

  1. XML APIs enable merchants to access all Google Checkout features. XML implementations are recommended for merchants who need to be able to digitally sign orders before sending them to Google. XML implementations are also recommended for merchants who want to offer coupons or discounts and for merchants who plan to integrate Google Checkout with their internal order processing and billing systems.

  2. HTML APIs enable merchants to send information to Google Checkout and receive information from Google Checkout using name/value pairs rather than XML. HTML implementations are recommended for small merchants who do not want to generate XML. Merchants can not digitally sign orders in HTML implementations, so merchants who use this implementation should plan to review orders manually.

Example of companies using Google Checkout include the merchant and ecommerce solution company Volusion (see this article at

5. Google Mapplets

Google Mapplets are mini-apps that can be embedded within the Google Maps. This implementation has examples include Gas Prices, Crop Circles (!) and real estate search. "Mapplets" are Google Gadgets that can manipulate the map using Javascript calls that are derived from the Google Maps API - but beware, there are differences.

(update: Read/Write has just written up a post covering some uses of Mapplets here.)

6. Google Talk XMPP

Developers can integrate their own applications into the Google Talk (its instant messaging service) connect (federate) their service with Google's (allowing "service choice". The "XMPP" bit of Google Talk is used for voice signaling and peer-to-peer addition, Google plans to support SIP signaling in the future.

Today, the Google Talk service is built on the following open-source protocols:

  • XMPP - Extensible Messaging and Presence Protocol; an IETF standard for instant messaging. XMPP was originally called Jabber, and the XMPP enhancement proposals were previously called Jabber Enhancement Protocols (JEPs). They are now called XEPs.
  • Jingle - A family of XMPP extensions that make it possible to initiate and maintain peer-to-peer sessions. Specific Jingle extensions support voice streaming, video streaming, and file-sharing sessions. (Watch out for the Google-specific non stardard XMPP extensions)

I could only find three mashups as examples using the Google Talk service (courtesy of ProgrammableWeb) - Gtalkr, Imified Instand Messenger Buddy and Jabber Google Map.


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