Google has launched a social networking tool for Gmail, Google Buzz, allowing its email users to share information, post photos, links and videos right from their Gmail account. The announcement followed previous reports disclosing Google’s plans to unveil a social networking tool as part of its Gmail service, writes mashable.com.
The features are similar to Facebook and Twitter. Users post shared content, receive content back and update their status, just like on Facebook. Users can also follow other Gmail users (automatically identified from Google Chat) in the same way Twitter does.
Buzz can also pull existing content from Twitter, Flickr, Google Reader and Picasa and output posts to Twitter will be available in the near future. No browser refreshing is required, as new posts are automatically sent to the browser and all shared content like photos and videos can be accessed directly via the feeds.
All replies to posts will be routed to the user’s Gmail inbox, allowing users to reply directly from their Inbox.
Bradley Horowitz, director of product management at Google, called Buzz “a Google approach to sharing”, saying it will add more productivity value to online social tools than its predecessors.
“There’s obviously value with social networking services. It is a phenomenon that’s real. But increasingly, it’s becoming harder to make sense and find the signal in the noise”, said Horowitz.
Sergey Bryn, co-founder Google, was quoted saying “Other social services focus on entertainment. I find them useful for productivity”.
Unlike Facebook and Twitter, he says, users can post both publicly and privately and all posts received are flagged according to relevance. All public posts are indexed by Google search. Moreover, the company plans to launch an enterprise version in the future to “change the way businesses communicate around the world” and show that social networking tools can go far beyond entertainment.
Google Buzz also has a browser-based mobile version at buzz.google.com, available for Google’s Android platform and iPhone. The service integrates into m.google.com (with a GPS function provided) and Google Maps (posts and geotaggings show within the services), both accessible on Android, Symbian and Windows Mobile.
Google is not new to social networking. In 2004, the company launched a service called Orkut, which never really took off worldwide, although it is popular in Brazil. Three years later, Google acquired Twitter rival, Jaiku, but stopped development of the platform.