The race to own your online identity is now heating up. With the success of Facebook's FB Connect, Google (GOOG) has now answered with their wide release of "Friend Connect." It was in a limited release for the past few months, but now any website can add Google Friend Connect as a login option.
Google Friend Connect and Facebook FB Connect allow you to create applications on your website which allows your users to engage with the site and their friends by logging in with their Google, Facebook, or OpenID credentials.
The main difference between the two is simply that Facebook is one social network, and on the other hand Google Friend Connect is available to any site, service or social network that uses OpenID for identification. If you are using Google Friend Connect your users are able to sign in using their Gmail login, so they aren't constricted to just one social network. Facebook Connect is only helpful if you are a Facebook member.
Google's Product Manager said in a blog post, "The goal is to facilitate an open social web. Using standards like OpenID and OAuth, FriendConnect makes it simple for people to instantly interact with one another on the sites they already love to visit. Additionally, web sites that use Friend Connect become OpenSocial containers capable of running applications created by the OpenSocial developer community."
It wouldn't be fair if we didn't let Facebook chime in on their service offering as well, so here's what Mark Zuckerberg said on in his blog post. "For example, you can use Facebook Connect with the reviews web site Citysearch. You can easily log in using your Facebook account, and from there you'll be able to interact with all of your Facebook friends. They'll be able to see some of the same profile information they can see on Facebook, which is fully controlled by your privacy settings."
"When you write a review for a restaurant, you'll have the option to publish that story back to Facebook where your friends can see it too. This makes finding your friends' reviews on Citysearch a snap. With Facebook Connect, it will be easier for you to share and connect with your friends across the web."
In terms of implementation, from my limited use with these two applications, it appears to me that Google Friend Connect is a much easier tool for the average user. Facebook's is aimed more to the savvy programming type. Google's FC is essentially just cut and paste, where Facebook's FB you actually have to do a little more work to create the application and get it live.
In my opinion, I think Google wins this round. What do you guys think?