Google Gives Gmail And Mobile Users A Social Networking 'Buzz'


Google on Tuesday got a little more Facebooky - or would it be Twittery? - with the addition of Google Buzz social networking platform into its widely popular Gmail offering and its mobile products.

During a Webcast event on Tuesday, the search giant unveiled and demoed Google Buzz, which takes five tenants of social networking to deliver "a Google approach to sharing."

Resembling a futuristic amalgamation of Twitter and Facebook, Google Buzz ties into Gmail and lets users follow friends, share pictures, video, links, status updates and a host of other things while wading through the noise of many social networking sites.

Google Marketing Vice President Bradley Horowitz said Buzz goes beyond just status updates and in user fees pulls images for links, plays video inline, lets users flip through photos quickly and integrates with Picasa, Flickr, Google Reader, Twitter and other social networks.

And while Buzz on the surface sounds like a consumer-focused product, Horowitz said it will soon be a business tool as well. He said Google has been testing it as a business tool.

"Our intention is to launch this as an enterprise solution as well," he said, adding that enterprise functionality won't be in version 1, but will be forthcoming.

Todd Jackson, Google Buzz product manager, said Buzz was built on five pillars: auto-following, which automatically find contacts to follow; rich and fast sharing based on a Gmail interface that lets users share photos, video and other content quickly; the ability to share content privately or publicly and switch between the two; inbox integration, which sends Buzz functionality and conversation threads to a users' inbox and automatically updates them; and "just the good stuff," which lets Google Buzz users filter out unnecessary and trivial information often shared via social networks by selecting and teaching Google Buzz what they want to see in updates and what they don't.

Jackson said Buzz uses the same Gmail shortcuts and principles and helps users focus more sharing and reading content shared by their contacts, friends and family.

"Organizing the world's social information has become a large-scale problem, the kind Google loves to solve," Jackson said.

Along with delivering Buzz to Gmail, Google also revealed a trio of new Buzz products that will make Google Buzz mobile, without just shrinking it down to scale to a smartphone.

Google Vice President of Mobile Engineering Vic Gundotra said the Google Buzz mobile strategy solves the problem of: "is there a way to make sense out of all of these forms of social expressions" and algorithmically bubble up what's important and what's not while tying in location information?

Google has launched a new mobile Web site that adds single-click Buzz access from the Google homepage and based on GPS location lets users post and share Buzz updates by typing or by voice and lets users see from which location that Buzz post was made

Google also launched a mobile version of Buzz, similar to Facebook's mobile application, for Google Android and the Apple iPhone. Within the Buzz mobile application, users can click on links and receive additional information on anything mentioned in their feeds, wither it be restaurants, bars and other locations while also having the same Buzz functionality they receive on a PC.

Additionally, Google unveiled a new version of Google Mobile Maps for Symbian and other mobile platforms that Buzz information into Google Maps based on geotagging. Maps users can get Buzz information from locations nearby.