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Google unveils Google+ Sign-In feature

Google has unveiled Google+ Sign-In, a new feature on the search giant's social network that will let users sign into third-party apps using their Google+ credentials.

The news is largely targeted at developers, who will need to add the Google+ sign-in option to their app or site. But once that's in place, you'll see the "Sign in with Google" and the G+ logo alongside all those "Sign in with Facebook" or "Sign in with Twitter" buttons across the web.

"Whether you're building an app for Android, iOS or the web, users can now sign in to your app with Google, and bring along their Google+ info for an upgraded experience," Google said in a blog post. "It's simple, it's secure, and it prohibits social spam. And we're just getting started."

To sign in with Google+, you can use the same log-in information you use to sign in to Gmail, YouTube, or any other Google service, like Chrome. Google promised safeguards like two-step verification and permissions screens.

For Android users who sign in to a website that also has an app, meanwhile, signing in on the desktop will automatically give you the option to install that app. Once you sign in on the PC, a pop-up window will ask you to pick your Android device and request permission to install on your phone. It will then appear on your mobile device with one click, Google said.

Google took a jab at Facebook and its "frictionless sharing" service by arguing that Google+ Sign-In will not share activity on third-party websites unless you request it.

"With Google+ Sign-In and circles you decide who to share with, if at all," Google said. "In addition: 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)."

Just like Facebook has added the option to download apps from the newsfeed, meanwhile, Google+ Sign-In will also allow users to quickly access the apps mentioned by friends.

"When you share from an app that uses Google+ Sign-In, your friends will see a new kind of 'interactive' post in their Google+ stream," Google said. "Clicking will take them inside the app, where they can buy, listen to, or review (for instance) exactly what you shared."

The move has been a long-time coming. Back in October 2011, a Google engineer slammed the search giant's approach to platforms, arguing that "The Google+ platform is a pathetic afterthought," pointing to the lack of an API at launch. Unfortunately, the engineer's post was supposed to be a private rant shared among co-workers that he accidentally made public - entertaining for us, embarrassing for him.

Shortly thereafter, Vic Gundotra, Google's vice president of engineering, said the company would take a "cautious approach" to APIs. "When we release an API we want developers to have high confidence that they can depend on Google," he said at the time.