Google Is Introducing Social Networking “Layers”… Wait, What Does That Mean?

googleericschmidtceo Google has released plans to introduce “layers” of social networking features into their various products later this year. Eric Schmidt, Google CEO, announced the plans at the Zeitgeist conference yesterday, and also announced that this is not anything remotely like a Facebook-killer or Ping-star-destroyer. It’s about bringing social features in to products that already exist. We take a look at what exactly these layers could possibly be after the jump.

Our best bet to understand what these layers could represent is to look at their recent acquisitions. Google has recently acquired Quiksee, a company that specializes in location-based video tours. They also recently acquired Slide, one of the earliest pioneers of the Facebook applications world, and LabPixies, a social gaming development shop. My guess would be that they’re assembling a team of social specialists and attempting to put together a social platform (or layer, if you will), that they’ll then ask the rest of the company to utilize. Perhaps it’s a set of API calls that allows various applications like Google Maps, GMail and YouTube to access one simple friends list. That kind of functionality already exists, but if the interface and terminology became a little more standardized, it would help make the social experience a little easier for users. Right now, it’s a bit fractured within the Google World.

Eric also talked about how he would love for Google applications to be able to access Facebook friends lists. He went on to say that currently, Facebook users are allowed to log in to Gmail and import anybody that uses a Google account but the opposite isn’t true. That’s an interesting statement, but Google knew that they were opening themselves up to potential competitor abuse when they opened up their platform, and Facebook has never made such a promise. It’s a bit unfair to ask Facebook, who are under public scrutiny for how they share their information, to just share their friend data with other teams.