February 09, 2010

Google Buzz Mobile Moves Beyond Latitude/Longitude

In addition to the morning's news that Google had launched Buzz as a major social push for Gmail, the company, in parallel, announced a new Web application for mobile devices, supporting both Android and iPhone platforms, that not only brings Buzz to the mobile phone, but also adds Buzz to the company's existing Maps application, showing Buzz from activity in your specific location. Leveraging the years of investments in Google Earth, Google Maps, Google StreetView and other location-based services, Google Buzz immediately ships with an advantage - determining the true identity of a location, beyond simple longitude and latitude coordinates.

As the much-hyped Foursquare and Gowalla applications have shown us over the last year, an individual's location is often as relevant as whatever activity is taking place. Google Buzz for mobile taps into the vast Earth, Maps and Street View database the company has been building over the last half-decade, and lets you post to Buzz with your update attached to the place where you are located, not just with a latitude/longitude coordinate, or even worse, an IP address.

"In the digital world, few have gotten this right," said Vic Gundotra, vice president of engineering at Google on Monday. "We don't want latitude/longitude, we want the colloquial term. We have solved this problem, of a conversation in a world of places, and mobile phones make it possible."

As Gundotra demoed to me at Google headquarters Monday on his Android-powered Google Nexus One handset, speaking into the phone made an automatic transcription, which could be posted to his Buzz, attached to the location he had selected. Tapping into Google's deep archives about places, establishments feature images of the location, details about that location, and relevant data, such as restaurant reviews, if applicable.

By selecting the "Nearby" option in his Buzz-enabled Maps application, Gundotra could also see what people were Buzzing about in the surrounding area.

The move to add geolocation is one trend that is growing for mobile applications and Twitter clients, although not many Twitter users have enabled such data sharing. If they do, and they pull their Tweets into Buzz, the product doesn't yet pull in that information to Mobile Maps, but it soon will, Gundotra promised.

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