Google Buzz is a service that adds social-networking to the Googlemail (Gmail) webmail service. We took Google Buzz for a ride to find out what it is, how to get it, and why it is different from Facebook and Twitter.
Google Buzz has been designed as a single dashboard to help users deal with the often massive amount of information they receive through existing social networking sites.
Unfortunately, at this point Google Buzz has no links into Facebook, which puts Google in direct competition with the world's biggest social-networking site: and will immediately make the 'simpler-is-better' proposition a fallacy for Facebook's 400 million users.
To use Google Buzz, you must first have a Gmail account. (For the uninitiated, Gmail is known as Googlemail in the UK.)
Go to Google.com/buzz, and follow the simple instructions. At this point, you should get a 'Buzz' icon and link beneath the inbox link in the lefthand navigation of your webmail browser window. Right now it seems that not all users immediately get this tab, and it doesn't yet appear in our webmail unless we go into it via the Google Buzz homepage.
Google Buzz: go mobile
Users can also access Google Buzz via Google Apps on mobile phones. Simply surf on over to buzz.google.com on you phone, sign in and accept the user agreement. The Google Buzz iPhone app is little more than a shortcut to a Gmail page optimised for mobile, with Buzz added.
Like all the Google iPhone 'apps' this insists on booting another Safari browser window every time you go in. It's simple to add posts, however, which show your location (should you desire it to be so). You can also post direct from Google Maps.
Quite fun is the Buzz map, which lets you see who is Buzzing in your neighbourhood - kind of like an amalgam of Foursquare and Twitter (albeit with security risks entailed). This is a good way of finding fellow Buzzers in your area.
You can import posts from Twitter into Google Buzz, but in our tests this was taking a long time (over an hour and a half as of 10:49am on February 10). This is clearly not much good for Twitter users, used to almost immediate response. Of course, it's likely that at this early stage Google Buzz is simply feeling the strain, and things will speed up.
NEXT: Google Buzz -why webmail, and what makes Buzz so good?
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