Google today announced a new service called Google Buzz, which automatically brings social networking to Gmail. Whether or not you're a big on social network sites like Twitter or Facebook, it looks very cool.
What's Buzz All About?
Buzz integrates with photos, video, links to websites and other content from all over the web. It's a whole lot like Facebook's newsfeed or FriendFeed, but it lives inside Gmail and integrates automatically with your most frequent Gmail contacts. Apart from working directly inside Gmail, it can pull content from Twitter, from Flickr, and from various other popular social sites from across the web.
When you publicly post something via Buzz, it automatically and instantaneously adds the post to your Google Profile page. If you want to post privately, you can create and choose specific groups you want to share with. It's clearly an attempt to get both the public aspects of Twitter along with the private aspects of Facebook.
Buzz is available as a new sidebar link in Gmail, but it also integrates with your Gmail inbox. Buzz items end up in your inbox in a three ways:
- Someone comments on your stuff
- You comment on something and other people continue the conversation.
- Someone @'s you, Twitter style.
The Recommended Buzz page pulls content from users you aren't following using an algorithm based on what your friends like or are following. The idea is that they'll bring you the "good buzz" even if you're not friends with who's delivering it. If you don't agree with the recommended "good buzz", you can tell Google so and it'll tweak its algorithm so hopefully it'll more closely match what you like next time.
When your friends post content that's not all that exciting, Buzz will automatically "collapse the bad Buzz."
Buzz on Your Mobile Device
Google is also launching three different mobile products that integrate with Buzz.
First, they've integrated Buzz into the Google.com mobile homepage. The new homepage has small UI tweaks, but the big change is that the Buzz icon now appears in the upper right corner of the screen. Click on it and you can post to Buzz, but more importantly, when you click there, Buzz will find your location and turn it into a real place (not just an address, but an actual, meaningful place. (When demoing, Buzz asked the user "Are you at Google?") In normal use, it'll try placing you at wherever it thinks you are, whether it's a business, your home, a restaurant, or wherever.
A mobile Buzz app for Android and iPhone (available at buzz.google.com gives the user mobile-friendly version of Buzz, providing a stream of people you're following. You can also grab nearby buzz to see what people around you are saying (say you're at a concert and want to hear what people are saying about it).
Finally, Google Mobile Maps has added a new Buzz layer, which allows you to post to Buzz quickly from Google Maps. (We're doubting this will work on the iPhone soon because it would require Apple to update Google Maps, which it normally only does on OS updates.) Like the web app, you can post from the Maps app, it'll grab your location and snap you to a real place rather than just an address.
Google says they want Buzz to be the poster child for what it means to make a social tool that plays nice — one that has an open API, that respects the user's privacy decisions, and that doesn't lock up your data. (As opposed to some other popular social networks.)
Google Buzz in the Business
Last of all, Google explained that they'll eventually be adding Buzz to Google Apps accounts so business can use them internally, something that Google thinks will be a very important use in time.
Google Buzz will begin rolling out at 11am PST (6am AEDT), and will continue slowly rolling out to users over the course of the next couple of days.
Interested? Let's hear what you think in the comments.