Launching Today: Google Buzz, a Gmail-Integrated Twitter Killer


Google has just announced their Twitter competitor, named Google Buzz. The twist--this service is completely integrated into Google's Gmail service. It's basically a new way to connect to your existing contacts in Gmail. Google lists 5 unique features of Buzz:

1. Auto-following. Google Buzz is populated by your Gmail contacts.

2. Rich, fast sharing experience. Same UI and keyboard shortcuts in Gmail. Special attention to media that users like to share, like YouTube.

Buzz has an integrated fast photo viewer, and plays videos in-line with messages. Connects with other web services, like Picasa and Flickr.

3.  Public and private sharing. Real-time indexing in Google search for public posts. You use a drop-down menu to make posts either private or public.

4. Inbox Integration. Buzz is a new item under the "Inbox" link in your Gmail navigation sidebar. It looks like an integration of Wave in Gmail.

Any item in Buzz can become a conversation. When you share, and get comments and likes in your activity, you don't just get a new email update. Updates show up in your inbox.  Comments and activity populates your inbox in real-time.

5.  Just the "good stuff." With the amount of social data going on in Twitter and Buzz, you tend to miss a lot of good stuff. In Buzz, you get updates from a recommendation system, even from people you aren't following. You can *thumbs up* and *thumbs down* posts to teach the system to filter out the "bad buzz." Posts that you aren't interested in get collapsed and hidden.

Next up, Buzz on mobile devices. It won't just be the desktop experience. "Signal relevancy" will be taken into account (ie. increased filtering, location services, etc).

More than just GPS location, Buzz will include Google's decade-long investment in their location-tracking platform, including turn-by-turn directions.

Buzz will work right from Google's mobile homepage on Android or iPhone. There's also a new Buzz app at (only for Android right now).

When you use Buzz from Google's homepage, it will make a "best guess" at your location, based on GPS or cellphone towers.  It'll also make guesses about businesses nearby.

On Android, you can also post to Buzz with text-to-speech.

Thoughts: All this location-tracking integration and recommendations makes Buzz way more complicated than Twitter. Not sure if tweeters are going to like that. There's an elegance and appeal to the simplicity of Twitter's limitations.

In Google mobile maps, you can see geo-tagged posts from people around you.

Eventually, Buzz will be launched as an enterprise product. This won't be in version 1, though.

Buzz will begin to roll out at 11AM PST today! The roll out will happen over the course of this week for most people.

Insights from Q&A Session:

- Wave integration will happen in the future.

- Google Latitude isn't obsolete, since it's built into Google Maps. It's just being utilized differently.

- Buzz is Google's vision for how "open" a social network should. At launch, Buzz will support the pubsubhubub protocol.

- No integration with Facebook Connect at this time, but it's something they've considered.

-  There's an "embarrassment of opportunity" to integrate Buzz with other services. Phoning in a Buzz is just one example.

-  You can pull in posts from Twitter to Buzz, though they didn't confirm that Buzz would be able to push out to Twitter.

-  Buzz spam filtering will use Gmail's existing system.

Top Image credit: Gizmodo

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