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Google has quietly axed the web services API to its eponymous search engine. The stealth move was made without any announcement, but visitors to the page now receive a blunt message, backdated to 5 December, advising them that the SOAP API is no longer supported.

The service was launched in spring 2002, giving developers a limited chance to develop applications using data drawn from Google's main search index. Amazon.com followed with its own web services interface weeks later. Both companies used SOAP, or Simple Object Access Protocol, the much-hyped web services protocol that is anything but simple.

But Google restricted the number of queries that could be made using the API to 1,000 searches a day, and 10 results per query. More recently, the accuracy of the results it returned has been criticised.

Google's original project manager Nelson Minar comments on the decision here.

Google now points developers to the more restrictive AJAX API instead.

"The AJAX Search API is better suited for search-based web applications and supports additional features like Video, News, Maps, and Blog search results," Google said. ®

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