Earlier this week, Google unveiled Buzz, a new social platform from the search giant that allows users to manage and engage in social activities from the company’s e-mail program, Gmail. In many ways, Google Buzz is a catch-all product.
It allows users to share multimedia and update their status for friends to see. Users can even share their location information to help folks connect with others in their area. Google Buzz is a shot over the bow of both Twitter and Facebook. And it seems that Google is playing for keeps.
But there are several important features built into Google Buzz that the search giant didn’t necessarily highlight so well during its announcement of the new service. That’s where we come in. We’re going to take a look at 10 features built into Google Buzz that any user should know about. Some are great additions to the social platform, while others leave much to be desired.
So let’s take a look at some things every user should know about Google Buzz.
1. It has a little bit of everything
Google Buzz attempts to be the social network to best them all. The service allows users to share photos and videos, update their status, share their locations, send messages to a select group of followers, and much more. It also integrates tweets, so users can see what others are talking about on Twitter without going there. Google Buzz is designed to be a one-stop shop for all things social.
2. No limits
Twitter users who have a difficult time with brevity will be happy to know that Google Buzz doesn’t limit the number of characters they can use in a status update. That allows users to copy-and-paste important text from something they find interesting or to simply provide more detail than they’re allowed in Twitter.
3. The timeline isn’t chronological
As users follow others and send out status updates themselves, they will notice that their timeline isn’t necessarily chronological. For example, if a follower comments on a status update sent a few hours ago-before more recent status updates-it will rise to the top, so it can be more easily found. That might be a problem for some, especially Twitter users, who only expect to see chronological updates on display.
4. Some design quirks
Unfortunately, Google Buzz suffers from some design issues that might frustrate users. The page can get cluttered if a user is following too many people. And thanks to multimedia sharing, some might be overwhelmed by just how much content is on the site. These design issues are certainly not a deal-breaker, but they might confuse some novice users.
Buzz for Business
5. It can go mobile
Google Buzz works on a mobile phone. Users can update their status and set their locations from their mobile device. Most importantly, they can find other Google Buzz users around their location with the help of their phone’s built-in GPS function. Admittedly, that functionality can be found in several other tools that integrate with social networks. But it’s a nice option to have for those perpetually on-the-go.
6. It’s more FriendFeed than Twitter
Although Google Buzz is undoubtedly targeting Twitter and Facebook, the service seems far more similar to FriendFeed than any other. Like Google Buzz, FriendFeed allows users to update their status, share photos and videos, and communicate with others on the site. FriendFeed offers far more customization, and integrating other social networks on the service is simple, but the way in which Google Buzz handles and displays content is awfully similar to FriendFeed. Rest assured, there are elements of Facebook and Twitter built into Google Buzz, but they’re not as obvious.
7. Buzz is coming to businesses
According to Google, it plans to bring Buzz to the enterprise and educational institutions at some point in the future. The service seems ideally suited for the corporate world. By allowing users to easily communicate with one another and collaborate on products, Google Buzz could become a serious contender in the enterprise-productivity market. Unfortunately, though, Google wouldn’t say when it will be offered to enterprise users.
8. Buzz suggestions are done right
One of the complaints some folks have with Twitter is its friend-suggestion tool. Rather than help its users find people that they might know or might like to receive updates from, Twitter handpicked individuals to include in the suggestion list. Unlike Twitter, Facebook does it right. Its friend-suggestion tool makes it extremely easy to find friends and acquaintances. The same can be said for Google Buzz. Rather than choose random folks to follow, it analyzes a user’s list of followers to find others they might know. It adds value to the service.
9. It’s all about real-time
Google Buzz delivers updates in real-time. When a user’s follower updates their status, it automatically shows up on Google Buzz. To some, that might be overwhelming, since folks working in the software will see updates appear out of the blue. But being able to see what others are discussing immediately is a nice feature that should help users stay engaged with the service.
10. No Facebook integration–yet
Although Google Buzz boasts some integration with Twitter, users won’t be able to share content with Facebook. It’s a glaring omission. Facebook is the de facto leader in the social-networking market. If Twitter is integrated into Google Buzz, it would seem only natural that Facebook would be too. For now, it’s not. And there’s no telling if that will change anytime soon.