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Google Buzz: Search giant gets social

In this screen shot provided by Google Inc.,

In this screen shot provided by Google Inc., the company's new "Google Buzz" feature for Gmail is shown. The feature unveiled Tuesday, Feb. 9, 2010, will enable Gmail users to create status updates on Google Buzz and read and comment on the updates posted by their friends. (AP Photo/Google Inc.) Photo Credit: AP Photo/

Google announced a new add-on for its popular Gmail service that will integrate e-mail, chat, media sharing and social networking into one package.

Dubbed Google Buzz, the Web-ware tool allows users to share of status updates, images, and videos via through  Gmail accounts. There will also be live Webcam conferencing and calls. Google Buzz  will also be available on Android based phones and the iPhone.

This is Google's attempt to steal some of the social networking pie from the other giants, in the hopes that users will be less depedent on their Facebook, Twitter and MySpace.

Google says Buzz will begin to be rolled out on Tuesday, and users should expect to see a new tab atop of their Gmail pages. Only one percent of accounts will see the new tool today, while the complete distribution to all user should be done within the week.

Here is a breakdown of the features:

1. Seamless Gmail integration
There will be no need to either download or sign up for a seperate Buzz login. Anyone with a Gmail account will already be setup. There will be a tab for Buzz in the inbox, allowing users to read status updates, photos and videos. Frequent Gmail contacts will automatically be be added as Buzz friends. Anytime anyone shares something with a user, an update will appear in the inbox.

2. Organized "buzz"
Buzz will keep track of users interaction with their friends to better organize their live news feed. Google Buzz also lets users like and dislike status updates, using this information to show or hide updates from these friends.

3. Media
Photos from Flickr and Picasa and video from YouTube will be integrated into Google Buzz, similar to what Facebook does. Users can embed photos, videos, and even their twitter updates on their own accounts.

4. Mobile Features
Google Buzz will be available as a mobile Web app, letting you users geotag their posts on Google Maps, and letting them see any recent buss of their current location.

5. Privacy
Users will be prompted with each post or status update on whether to make it private or public. Private updates can go to all of your Buzz followers, or specific friends. Public updates are posted on a Google Profile page and ndexed for Google Search.

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