MOUNTAIN VIEW, Calif. – The effort to make it easier for Web surfers to connect with their friends is attracting a crowd.
Following similar moves by the two biggest online hangouts, Internet search leader Google Inc. is introducing tools that are supposed to make any Web site more sociable.
The service, made available on a limited basis Monday, provides a framework that will enable people to interact with their friends and use favorite applications they have accumulated on social networks like Facebook and Plaxo even when they aren't visiting those sites.
Google's initiative, called "Friend Connect," follows pledges by MySpace and Facebook last week to allow their users to transport their personal profiles and applications to other Web sites.
News Corp.'s MySpace and privately held Facebook — the Internet's two largest social hubs — announced their plans for wider accessibility late last week.
"Social is in the air," said David Glazer, a director of engineering for Google.
Only about two dozen Web sites initially will have access to Google's Friend Connect code to start. The trial run includes a site devoted to musician Ingrid Michaelson and another site providing recipes for guacamole.
The coding is expected to become widely available during the next few months.
Without providing specifics, MySpace and Facebook have said it will be several more weeks before their users can transplant their personal information to other Web sites.
Google hopes its latest social tools will encourage people to spend even more time online, giving the company more opportunities to show the advertising that generates most of its profits.
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