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Google Releases Lifestream Service: Buzz

Today Google announced a new “social” part of Gmail called Google Buzz. I find this a strange coincidence after just last week I was discussing if we should just give up on Google as a “Social Entity”.

1. You will automatically follow the people you e-mail and chat with on a regular basis.
2. You can share content from around the Web, including YouTube, Picasa, Flickr, and Twitter.
3. You will be able to share your thoughts in a public way and in a private way.
4. You will get social updates in your inbox.
5. Google will help you find only the stuff that matters by recommending popular content.
6. The mobile version of Buzz can figure out where you are and show you nearby buzz posts.

Another Friendfeed Clone

It’s a little surprising to see how identical Buzz is to FriendFeed. There’s still a lot of users using Friendfeed (and one of my favorite social networks), but since being acquired by Facebook it’s not keeping up with integrating new services or innovating. The Buzz team has also been able to lift some of the best ideas from FriendFeed. You can “like” items, comment on them, and you can see who liked a post. Which looks identical to FriendFeed’s implementation of this feature (see RWW‘s screenshot).

Sadly Buzz is missing one of Friendfeed’s best noise cancelling features where you can ‘hide’ certain types of posts. This features is quite handy if you don’t wanna see someone’s picasa posts, a custom RSS feed, or a noisy twitter user for example, without having to necessarily un-follow them.

Another vital Friendfeed feature Buzz is missing is Groups (previously known as Rooms). With Friendfeed Groups you can see updates related to specific topics of interest to you. For example, one can follow people posts related to Apple, Web Design, Google, Facebook, etc. This includes posts from people you aren’t currently following. This means 1) You’ll be able to find new friends of common interests and 2) When you post to a group, people who aren’t following you (but are following that Group) will see your post as well, giving your post more exposure. In Buzz, you can post to a group of friends you create in a friends list, but you can’t follow other people friends lists, so Buzz is missing out on this great social feature.

Focus on Mobile
Unlike Friendfeed however, Google Buzz seems to have a focus on mobile.

Google Reader

Just last week I was chatting with my good friend Dylan Blanchard (over a game of pool) about Google’s failed attempt at making Google Reader social. It’s almost impossible to build a conversation around the items you share. But Buzz might give Google Reader the social features we’ve all been waiting for.

Open Standards

Some great news for the other lifestreaming and open standard fanatics out there…

Over the next several months Google Buzz will introduce an API for developers, including full/read write support for posts with the Atom Publishing Protocol, rich activity notification with Activity Streams, delegated authorization with OAuth, federated comments and activities with Salmon, distributed profile and contact information with WebFinger, and much, much more.


The Flaws

1. One major mistake I believe is that they’re introducing Buzz as part of Gmail. If they introduced it as it’s own service at , and adding it into your gmail was just a feature, it would be far more successful.

2. Although most people have a Google Account, this will not be useful for the many people who don’t use gmail for their email client. As well, these users will also have minimal existing google contacts.

3. This could also be quite annoying for people who try to keep social networking noise separate from email, especially with all the emails that people have cc’ed you on a post, liked or commented on one of your posts. (Edit: This can be solved with the use of a Gmail filter)

4. For those who use gmail for professional and business connections, they may need to have a different GMail account for their social connections. (Buzz uses Google Contacts where you can define various friend lists for services like GTalk & Reader, so Google may be able to solve this problem that way).