Google Officially Introduces Google Buzz

Whether it’s Google’s answer to Facebook or just an improvement to its Gmail Webmail service, Google Buzz is alive and well following its introduction by the search-engine giant Tuesday.

Google Buzz integrates photos, videos, and links from social networking sites used by Gmail users’ contacts, and Google said it will roll out the product over the next few days.

Gmail and Google Buzz product manager Todd Jackson posted in the Google Blog:

Google Buzz is a new way to start conversations about the things you find interesting. It’s built right into Gmail, so you don’t have to peck out an entirely new set of friends from scratch — it just works. If you think about it, there’s always been a big social network underlying Gmail. Buzz brings this network to the surface by automatically setting you up to follow the people you email and chat with the most. We focused on building an easy-to-use sharing experience that richly integrates photos, videos, and links, and makes it easy to share publicly or privately (so you don’t have to use different tools to share with different audiences). Plus, Buzz integrates tightly with your existing Gmail inbox, so you’re sure to see the stuff that matters most as it happens in real time.

On your phone, Google Buzz is much more than just a small-screen version of the desktop experience. Mobile devices add an important component to sharing: location. Posts tagged with geographical information have an extra dimension of context — the answer to the question, “Where were you when you shared this?” can communicate so much. And when viewed in aggregate, the posts about a particular location can paint an extremely rich picture of that place. Check out the Mobile Blog for more info about all of the ways to use Buzz on your phone, from a new mobile Web app to a Buzz layer in Google Maps for mobile.

From live coverage of the Google Buzz announcement by TechCrunch:

Google Buzz is easily the company’s boldest attempt yet to build a social network. Imagine taking elements of Twitter, Yammer, Foursquare, Yelp, and other social services, and shoving them together into one package. Now imagine covering that package in a layer that looks a lot like FriendFeed. Now imagine shoving that package inside of Gmail. That’s Buzz. If Google Wave is the future, Google Buzz is the present.

Among features offered by Google Buzz, as culled from reports by TechCrunch, CNET, and The New York TimesBits:
• Google Buzz notes appear right in Gmail in-boxes, marked with a special Buzz icon that looks like a cartoon text bubble filled with Google’s signature primary colors.
• Buzz provides a stream of status updates, pictures, links, and videos from friends that can be commented on and liked.
• Users of Flickr, Picasa, Google Reader, and Twitter can automatically have content from those services imported into their Google Buzz feeds, and Buzz will recommend items based on friends’ activity.
• Google will hide quick messages like “brb” and auto-collapse items with very little comment activity.
• The Google Buzz algorithm lets users click “not interested” on recommended status updates if they don’t wish to see that particular type of update again.
• Users of Google Maps for Mobile will be able to see public Google Buzz content posted from mobile phones around their location.