The big difference with Beacon is that the universal activity streams are not to be commercial in nature. So theoretically it won't broadcast when you buy that Tears for Fears album.
Launch expected in February or March.
These “universal activity streams” are meant to combine all actions you take online, similar to Facebook’s Beacon, and present them as a line of text in your personal activity feed on Google or an OpenSocial partner site like MySpace or Bebo. Within Google, for instance, these feeds could appear in Gmail, iGoogle, or Google Reader. The universal activity stream is expected to launch around February or March of next year. [...]Google Poaching Beacon Partners For “Universal Activity Stream”
For Google, “activity streams” were always part of the plan. In fact, developers already can create similar “activity streams” for their applications. Since launch, OpenSocial’s documentation (see here) has always included support for activity streams that report on a user’s action to whatever host the developer chooses. They are consumable through a widget based on OpenSocial’s activity stream API. But Google currently specifies that these streams are not to be commercial in nature[.]
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