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Adding Social Login to an App with Onymos and Ionic

Adding Social Login

Got an app that needs login?  Don’t we all. Adding Social login like Apple or Google or Facebook may seem pretty straightforward, but it can be complicated.  Sure there are plug-ins and code snippets, but you need one for each.  Then you actually need to code them into the App. And how’s your backend infra for tracking/storing who logged in and when?

It’s just writing

How hard can it be?  A professional developer can whip up a couple Social login frontends no trouble. After all, coding is just writing (as a reformed code and enthusiastic writer, I can honestly say that coding was never the same as writing for me). But here’s the thing – software engineers are smart.  They are clever, and creative.  (and if i’m throwing my former self in the category, let’s add good-looking too!). For many businesses, software engineers are the ‘growth engine’ of the company.

Hero?  Or Zero.

So…  let’s consider the time and effort spent ‘just writing’ Apple/Google/Facebook logins.  Within the realm of the App project, is the Social Login functionality a ‘hero’ function?  A competitive advantage?  An innovation beyond its time?  A career-maker? The stuff of legends? Uh… no.  Sure, social login is important.  But it’s just one of many building blocks the App needs to be relevant. I argue Social Login, and really all login/access functions, are ‘zero’ functions. 

There is zero upside for you to write it.

What if you spend hours hand-crafting the most gorgeous social login ever?  No one will care.  You will get zero credit.  On the other hand, if you spend hours on it, and there’s a bug, you get the blame. A classic lose-lose. But even worse, for you and your app project and your company, if you do spend hours building social login (again), those are hours that one of the most valuable resources of the company (you) is not doing what it (you) does best – innovating.

Build vs Buy: it’s time for off-the-shelf mobile App Components

We’re more than a decade into the mobile/App revolution.  The basic functionality consumers expect from an app is fairly well-understood. So why are we still writing them? As every industry matures, there’s a separation which occurs.  The value producers move ‘up’, searching for higher returns and added value.  In turn, and turn to specialized suppliers to buy the basics, the foundation.

So, how easy is it? Onymos had an intern over the summer who had limited experience in developing a mobile app.  But with a little direction, he was able to drop in Apple/Google/Facebook login into an existing app in about 15 minutes.

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