Wednesday, February 10, 2010

Google Buzz - firsthand impressions

I got Google Buzz last night, and I've been playing around with it for the past few hours. Here's what I think about the product.

What is Google Buzz to me?
Google Buzz is a Twitter/Friendfeed on steroids with Wave-like features.

1. Photos and videos - Buzz makes uploading and viewing photos very easy. Take a look back at Twitter: Twitter was never meant to be a photo-sharing service, but as the site matured more and more need arose for sharing photos. Services have come up addressing this need (like Twitpic) but the user experience is not seamless. Buzz addresses this problem nicely.
Apart from displaying the images inline (a la Facebook), viewing the images in large size is also a breeze for Buzz. In the screenshot below, note that the image is displayed over a grayed out Buzz window.

2. Integration with Google ecosystem - Buzz is closely integrated with Gmail, and let me explain why this is a good thing. Google emails buzzes where a comment has been made, similar to FB's notification bar. You can then comment on buzzes directly from that emailed message. Since Gtalk is intertwined with Gmail, you can also directly IM that person. Buzz also allows for @-ing people even within your comments (Facebook doesn't support this).

The fact that Google Buzz slid into Gmail also leverages the natural email network that you already have. I don't have a lot of contacts, so it's not entirely useful for me, but for people with many contacts, this may be more fun. I think that this network can also be used to serve as a noise filter in the future.

It also allows for nice integration with other Google properties like Google profiles, Blogspot (more on this later), Reader, and Youtube.

3. Blogs * - One of the biggest uses people have for Twitter and Facebook is for posting links However, to actually see the contents in that link, you have to click the link. In Buzz, blog posts (seemingly only for blogspot atm, but I'm hopeful they'll expand!) are shown inside the individual "buzz" and you don't need to actually visit the blog to see the content.
Clicking expand shows my entire blog post.
(Why did I not include mobile and the Foursquare-like features? Because I don't use it :) )

1. Facebook - I think this is a deliberate effort of Google to leave out Facebook integration, but with Facebook being the world's largest social network (at 400 million strong), Google not integrating with Facebook means people still need to open Facebook. Facebook is soon launching its own webmail service, and that will just eat into Gmail.

2. No extensions - This is too early to tell, but I'd appreciate if Goog would roll out Chrome/Firefox extensions.

3. No outgoing capability - My blog automatically posts to Twitter, my Twitter automatically posts to Facebook. I'd like Google Buzz to have this capability as well, so that when I post a buzz, my Facebook and Twitter profiles are updated. It should be intelligent enough though to interpret duplicates and remove them from my stream.

What would really make me happy:
1. If Google Buzz would become the ultimate social aggregator - I've long been hoping to have a one-stop shop for all my social networks.

Here's the official Google video on Buzz:

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