Taking Google's Buzz mobile

You've seen how Google's social networking service, Buzz, works on the desktop. Now it's time to see how to Buzz from your mobile phone.

We've taken a first look at Google Buzz (video) from many angles--as a Gmail feature, as a privacy nightmare, and as a pain to disable. Now it's time to fire up the mobile phone to see how Google's new social networking service works on the go.

We give you a taste of Google Buzz for mobile in our First Look video, as tested (fittingly) on Google's Nexus One phone. But heed our warning--what you can access using Buzz from various outlets is a brain-bender, and depends on your smartphone.

There are four main ways to buzz:

  1. From a link on Google.com
  2. From a dedicated Buzz site, buzz.google.com
  3. As a layer in the native Google Maps app
  4. As a voice prompt

Now here's the first kicker: you can't exercise just any posting option from every phone.

Here's how you can get to Buzz if you have:

  • iPhone: Google.com, buzz.google.com, iPhone-optimized Google Maps Web site (not the native Maps app), Google Mobile App voice search shortcut
  • Android: Google.com, buzz.google.com (for Android 2.0+ only at launch), Google Maps (Android 1.6+), Google voice search shortcut (Android 2.0+)
  • Symbian Series 60 and Windows Mobile 5+: Google Maps 4.0 (download from m.google.com)

Google plans to roll out broader support for all of the above on more platforms and more phones in the coming months.

Confusing, disparate

Buzz.Google.com is accessible from iPhone and some Android phones. (Credit: Google)

After working out how you can get to Buzz from which smartphone comes the second kicker. Not every Buzz outlet lets you do the same thing. You can post a geolocation-optional buzz from any of these four avenues, but the extras--finding buzzes from others nearby, adding a photo, and seeing locations on a map--differ by Buzz portal.

For instance, the well-developed buzz.google.com Web app lets you search, view nearby buzzes, read the updates of those who follow you, and view a map of nearby Buzzers (Buzzards?). Tap a person's buzz and you can "like" it, reply, and view the geotagged location from a map. Those are good features, as is being able to use Google search to find your precise location if there's no perfect match on Google's list of GPS'ed suggestions.

The Buzz layer in Google Maps, however, lacks the granularity of being able to search for your GPS location. You can't "like" another's buzz, and you can only view buzzes from those around you, not your buddies. On the plus side, you can include a photo in a Maps buzz.

What it all boils down to is that Buzz as service lacks unity and inhabits an almost frenetic quality. While all public buzzes post to the same place--your Google profile--the experience differs too greatly through the various portals. We'd like to see the Buzz Web app and Maps layer, the two most substantial ways to get to Buzz from a mobile phone, share all their features. There's no reason you shouldn't be able to peek at who you're following from the map, or upload photos to the Web.

About Jessica Dolcourt

Jessica Dolcourt reviews smartphones and cell phones, covers handset news, and pens the monthly column Smartphones Unlocked. A senior editor, she started at CNET in 2006 and spent four years reviewing mobile and desktop software before taking on devices.