Yahoo opens its address books to outside developers with API

Goal is to let third-party developers build apps that use Yahoo members' contact lists

Yahoo announced the public release Wednesday of a new Address Book application programming interface (API) that enables developers to build new applications by using the address books behind Yahoo Messenger, Go, Mail and others.

The new API, which already is being used by the social networking sites of LinkedIn and Plaxo, will support different third-party applications, such as sending invitations to build social networks or social applications, looking up postal addresses for shipping services for online retail, and providing address "auto-complete" for messaging applications, Yahoo said.

"This new API provides access to one of the largest collections of address books on the Internet," noted Charles Wu, product manager for the address book system, in a blog post. "This means your applications already have a built-in audience. The new Yahoo Address Book API unlocks the relationships that Yahoo members have developed on Yahoo and makes them easy to tap into on your site."

The API supports search, and once a user authorizes a third-party application, developers can easily access that user's address book and look for specific contacts.

With new API, developers can also do the following:

  • Obtain unique identifiers, such as e-mail addresses, to help build a social network.

  • Look up phone numbers for mobile and Short Messaging Service applications.

  • Look up e-mail addresses for content-sharing applications.

    The new API provides access to a user's address book via BBAuth, Yahoo's browser-based authentication. Users authorize an application to access their address-book data through the Yahoo log-in process.

    Joseph Smarr, Plaxo's chief platform architect, wrote in a blog that the new API has made it possible for Plaxo to support bidirectional address-book synchronization between Yahoo and Plaxo.

    "This is another great move from Yahoo, [which] has been showing real leadership in the area of data portability and opening up the social Web," Smarr said. "The next phase of the Web will be enabled by empowering users with control over their data, and the ability to let them use within the tools, services and devices they choose. The Yahoo Address Book API is a great step in that direction, giving users access to their address-book data -- and without having to give up their user name and password to a third-party site."

    Mark Hendrickson, a blogger at TechCrunch, said the API would be more powerful if developers could not only retrieve basic contact information from Web mail services such as Yahoo Mail but could also determine the type of relationship a user has with those contacts.

    "For example, if I wanted to pull out a user's top five contacts, I could do so by looking at the frequency of messages sent to all contacts," Hendrickson noted. "This lookup could be refined by targeting only messages with certain keywords so that contacts belonging to particular categories (say, golf enthusiasts) could be identified by their messages. Unfortunately, no such advanced querying is available with Yahoo's new API, at least to start."

  • Join the newsletter!

    Or

    Sign up to gain exclusive access to email subscriptions, event invitations, competitions, giveaways, and much more.

    Membership is free, and your security and privacy remain protected. View our privacy policy before signing up.

    Error: Please check your email address.
    Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

    Heather Havenstein

    Computerworld
    Show Comments

    Cool Tech

    Toys for Boys

    Family Friendly

    Stocking Stuffer

    SmartLens - Clip on Phone Camera Lens Set of 3

    Learn more >

    Christmas Gift Guide

    Click for more ›

    Brand Post

    Most Popular Reviews

    Latest Articles

    Resources

    PCW Evaluation Team

    Aysha Strobbe

    Microsoft Office 365/HP Spectre x360

    Microsoft Office continues to make a student’s life that little bit easier by offering reliable, easy to use, time-saving functionality, while continuing to develop new features that further enhance what is already a formidable collection of applications

    Michael Hargreaves

    Microsoft Office 365/Dell XPS 15 2-in-1

    I’d recommend a Dell XPS 15 2-in-1 and the new Windows 10 to anyone who needs to get serious work done (before you kick back on your couch with your favourite Netflix show.)

    Maryellen Rose George

    Brother PT-P750W

    It’s useful for office tasks as well as pragmatic labelling of equipment and storage – just don’t get too excited and label everything in sight!

    Cathy Giles

    Brother MFC-L8900CDW

    The Brother MFC-L8900CDW is an absolute stand out. I struggle to fault it.

    Luke Hill

    MSI GT75 TITAN

    I need power and lots of it. As a Front End Web developer anything less just won’t cut it which is why the MSI GT75 is an outstanding laptop for me. It’s a sleek and futuristic looking, high quality, beast that has a touch of sci-fi flare about it.

    Emily Tyson

    MSI GE63 Raider

    If you’re looking to invest in your next work horse laptop for work or home use, you can’t go wrong with the MSI GE63.

    Featured Content

    Product Launch Showcase

    Don’t have an account? Sign up here

    Don't have an account? Sign up now

    Forgot password?