Buzz was a reserved name in Gmail folders for some time, and now it is clear why. I think Google realized that Wave should not have been the starting point with their jump into the real-time. Something that offered a simpler experience to a larger set of users was needed. Tapping into Gmail gave them this very audience making it more than email. It is now a Social Destination.
Before I go into how I see all the capabilities, you should understand that building your Google Profile is a key to bringing and bridging data together to make the most use of Buzz. A simple way to see what services you have linked is the Google Dashboard I highlighted back in November.
Buzz is a layer that sits between your Gmail contacts and the social web. It interacts with data (Buzz) generated by your contacts, and even recommended users. Gone are the days of the 140 character post with a link to a picture. Images are pulled in from links. Comments can be made. Sharing is simple. This is more than a conversation flow. Google is coming in reverse of what Facebook is doing with Project Titan. They are leveraging the large email base to make a social destination. Facebook is trying to leverage their social network to build an email platform. I think Google just won for the first part of the war.
A question that someone in the audience tried to pose, but was actually addressed in Todd’s portion of the presentation was on privacy controls. The controls are inherently built in allowing sharing with the general public and small groups/individuals. Buzz will remember the last setting you use and continue it until you manually make the change. An excellent default mechanism on one hand and a way to screw yourself on the other. Just remember to always double check how you are sending something before actual sharing. I don’t care what service it is on. Google will also hook together other Google service accounts you have established with no intervention needed. Adding RSS feeds and other sites such as Twitter are built into the interface. With PubSubHubBub integration available and an API, your output from Buzz will be open for you to grab as XML now. This will allow developers to work with the stream and start building products.
Next up was the mobile integration and this is where things get enjoyable. Currently supported are applications for iPhone and Android. Simple steps like querying your location for the best location awareness to post Buzz is inherent. After a query, a list will bereturned and ask you to select it to say if you are there. A layer in the new Google Maps has been added to show Buzz, which gives little balloons around your location with current Buzz. This takes the term Nearby to a new level and puts a dent in Gowalla, Foursquare and Yelp while enhancing Google latitude (see my many posts right here on Latitude). This becomes updates and geotagging on steroids. While Buzz and Latitude operate independently still, a merge is coming (from the Q&A)
At the end, there was a brief Q&A session with the bloggers and press. Privacy I addressed already above. Another question was Google Wave integration. I think that would not be a logical next step as Google answered. Wave is a whole other dynamic and that would be a huge bridge to lay for the average user.
I have a screencast coming shortly, but this should get you all set for now. I would suggest you also read Louis Gray’s posting on the announcement today for his excellent thoughts.