Google Wave Preview


Last summer Google made an announcement about a new product called Wave. Wave was designed to re-imagine e-mail. The developers were trying to figure out what e-mail would look like if it were invented today. Google opened up a preview version for developers early on, and started sending out non-developer invites in September. This version is so new it is still labeled Preview, rather than Beta. This is intentional. Google still hasn’t released this to the masses.

I got my copy of the Google Wave preview at the tail end of September, and so far I am pretty happy with it. The limitations attest to the preview status. Knowing that this is a preview, I don’t mind the bugs so much.

Google Wave allows you to collaborate in real-time with anyone you would normally e-mail. You can see chat messages as they are typed, share documents in real-time, embed Waves into presentations and web sites, and more. The possibilities continue to expand. Those familiar with Google Docs should be familiar with the collaboration features. By sharing a document, multiple users could have the same document open and can edit any piece that they need. After a brief delay, the content shows up for all the collaborators to see. Wave is designed to reduce this gap, and show updates as they happen.

So, what can Google Wave do? Lots of things. One of the things I tested is the ability to paste a Wave into a web page. The following image shows a Wave I started.

I simply added a title and embedded a gadget that allows users to share files in real-time, and even browse the web together with the same browser, all while in a video chat setting. I could choose to make this public to all Wave users, but I have had a recent experience with someone playing with my Wave that makes me less inclined to share video.

Once I embed a Wave into a website or blog, I can type anything I want into the Wave and it updates both locations. Anything I type from my Wave account will show up on the web page, and anything from the web page will show up on my Wave account. I think this feature is pretty cool.

So what else can Google Wave do? There are a number of tools already available for Google Wave. There is a simple survey tool, a map, and even a Sudoku Wave. You can play chess, connect-4, and a number of other games, all with real-time chat. You get to see the chat text as it is typed. A number of the better programs are only available to those who participated in the development sandbox. Hopefully these will be officially launched soon. I got my sandbox account recently so hopefully I can produce some extensions in the relatively near future.

For those of us who were excited about Wave all summer, we could watch an 80 minute video introducing us to Wave. They have since made a condensed version, only 10 minutes long. Much better for those who don’t have 80 minutes to spare. Here is the video:

For those of you with lots of time on your hands, you can watch the full 80 minute video here.

I am looking forward to seeing how Wave develops over the next year or so. Wave has the potential to revolutionize collaboration among social groups, as well as businesses.

I was going to show an embedded wave in this post, but there are still some kinks to work out. For people who don’t have a Wave account, it shows a log-in screen in an i-frame that cuts off the form and doesn’t look right. It also has an anchor-like effect, where the page will jump to the log-in even if the post is several items down on the blog home page. When this glitch is fixed I will test out embedding into blog posts.

Google has recently started inviting more and more people, but if you want an invite right now, you have an opportunity. I will send a Wave invite to the first 10 people who comment on this post.

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