updated 02:10 pm EST, Tue February 9, 2010
Google Buzz merges media, Twitter, more
Google at its event today gave its users a new real-time status update system. Google Buzz aggregates live updates from a user's Google contacts and shows not just direct messages but updates from Twitter, Google Reader updates, and media posts from Flickr, Picasa and YouTube. Photos and videos are given special treatment and include special media browsers to view content without having to leave the existing environment.
The system is location-aware and also allows public and private sharing from the same account; buzz can be made public or sent only to specific people or groups. Google claims to have a smart filter that auto-collapses very short or otherwise low-key messages, although users can "like" updates, comment on them and send Twitter-style @ replies to friends.
Unlike many other systems, the system will auto-follow more frequent contacts. It doesn't currently post outwards, however, though Google hints that Buzz may eventually make updates to Twitter and similar in the future.
The service will also be available on smartphones and will first arrive as a web app for Android and iPhone; both can use their GPS to position themselves, and Android 2.x phones can use speech recognition to create updates through voice.
Google also promises native apps and expects to soon launch updated versions of Google Maps for Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile phones. These will add a separate Buzz layer and not only geotag shots but show recent updates on the map. No reason has been given for the absence of an iPhone app, although Google has usually sought to have map features added into Apple's native Maps rather than separate downloads.
Buzz is reaching Google accounts gradually and will initially go to the press and other key influencers today, reaching others in the near future.