Google opens API access to

Google has finally fully freed its URL shortening service,, for third-party use, enabling API access and detailing how developers can add support for the service into their own applications.

Although the URL shortening market is somewhat super-saturated at the moment, Google's offering is one of the better ones: tying in to the company's existing spam and malware filters to keep out the dross, the service offers one of the fastest lookup engines around - helped by the presence of Google servers across the world, rather than the more US-centric approach of other services.

The company's newly-opened API for offers a range of features for developers to drool over: as well as immediate access to shortening via your own app, the service supports request authentication - allowing click-throughs to be tracked and analysed via the dashboard.

The benefit for Google is obvious: by offering free and open access to its URL shortening service via the new API, it encourages programmers to add support into their apps - and as the programmers capture analytics, so too does Google. Increased traffic means increased analytics, and increased analytics helps feed the company's primary business: advertising.

Full instructions for access the service via the API - which, handily, uses simple HTTP methods and thus works from desktop, mobile, or web apps without prejudice - is available on the official Google URL Shortener API page.