Not quite mobile computing but interesting anyway is Google’s Buzz. Its an extension of their social circle features and integrates messaging, timeline, media into mail and other Google apps. I won’t go over it in detail because there’s a ton of information and discussion already out there but I do want to talk a little bit about the Buzz layer on Google Maps for Mobile because at the same time as releasing the new feature on Gmail, Google also updated their maps clients to include Buzz features. You could argue that Nokia’s Ovi Maps and Ovi Contacts already have these features and that there are other apps and services out there that let you do this but I’m seeing at least the potential for some major integration across Google products here that, given their user base, will blow away the competition.
I’ve made a video demo with the N82 and the Omnia Pro which you’ll see below and personally, I think it’s exciting to finally see location, search, public multi-media messaging and threaded public discussion being pulled together on a map with my pre-existing ‘social circle’ in this way. I always thought Google Latitude had good underpinnings in terms of privacy and ‘friending’ but it never took off and although Buzz doesn’t seem 100% connected to Latitude’s idea of multi-tiered and friend-dependant privacy, it’s clear that Google could make the final connections very easily. Linking search, local friends, local events, photography in a live, localised way like this seems to have way more potential than the simple 140 character smart-bomb option.
There are still some things missing though. A client app would be nice but I assume that Tweetdeck and many of the other multi-protocol social messaging apps out there will link in soon and either Google Mail for Mobile or Gtalk will probably evolve along with Google Maps for Mobile. There’s also a lack of ability to embed the live maps and message stream in other places. The ability to ‘friend’ someone from the Maps Mobile app is also missing and of course, using GPS, 3G, maps, screen, GPU and GPU is going to KILL your smartphone battery life! Clearly a secondary device, something like the Dell Mini 5 with Buzz application is going to be better if you need to use this more than an hour a day.
It’s early days but I can see a lot of potential here. The ability to see local ‘buzz’ is just great and combined with local friend notification (already in Latitude) and event / threshold alerting, this is going to be a great step forward for mobile communications capabilities. Whether people latch on to the idea i another matter but in a quick test with my wife this morning, she seemed happy to add ‘the Buzz’ to her familiar and often-used Google Maps application. I can’t say the same introducing her to twitter and this could be the major advantage for Google; familiarity.
Although my Gmail hasnt been enhanced with Buzz yet (expected in the next few days here in Germany) I’ve been testing out the features from Maps Mobile. My ‘stream’ is here.