Google has announced a new project to add to their portfolio of interesting and sometimes useful apps. This new one is known as Google Wave. What exactly is wave? Wave is what Google believes email would look like if it were invented today as opposed to 40 some odd years ago. Because of this, Google believes it should incorporate various means of communication that we use today in order to better our ability to communicate with others. While the use of the word email may seem very familiar to you, in reality it really isn’t anything like email. I would describe Google Wave as a combination of email, message board and instant messaging. The reason I say this is because of the features that Google Wave uses to make it unique.
First of all, wave is “live” meaning that everything is constantly changing and that if there are multiple people on at once you can see them changing the conversation. In order to allow all of this to work seamlessly Google employs HTML 5 in the creation of this app. From what was gathered from the demo, this application will work in Windows and OSX as well as Chrome and Firefox. They did not use IE as far as I know, but I would expect them to support that as well. Everything you do is basically contained within the browser itself. If all that just isnt enough to satisfy you, it also works on the iPhone and Android OS based phones. The way that all of this is controlled is actually through hosting all of it on Google’s servers which means that all of your communications are logged and sifted through by Google in order to better target ads. Some people may feel uneasy with this as Google will be able to view your personal conversations and not just your emails. Personally, as long as Google makes the data anonymous I don’t really have that much of a problem with it. But to many, this may still be a concern.
Here you can see a screenshot of wave running in chrome off of the google wave webpage(image courtesy of google).
Now, let’s get to what Google wave can really allow you to do. You can write a message to a friend and if they are online, they can immediately respond. If they aren’t online they can respond back to you as if it were an email. In addition to this, you can add people to the conversation at any time during the conversation just by simply dragging their contact into the conversation. You also have live updates so you can see people typing responses to your messages in real time as we stated earlier. Another added feature they included allows you to respond to specific parts of a conversation. So if you have a friend who likes to talk a lot and send you lengthy messages different people can respond to different parts of the message without having to copy the entire text and edit out the parts they aren’t responding to. You can also make private replies within the conversation to specific individuals if you don’t want others to see what you’re responding to. There is also a feature that allows you to start from the original message or thread and play out the rest of the replies as if it were a video taken of the conversation so you can see how the conversation has progressed. For some reason, I think someone will use this feature and will forget to make it private and some people will see something they shouldn’t have…
Here is another screenshot of a conversation(image courtesy of google).
While using this this live format, you can also add pictures from your computer into the conversation at any time and share the photos within the conversation. The pictures will also load in real time and the thumbnails will show up to others before the pictures are even fully loaded. Currently, Google says that this is the only feature that may require Google’s Gears in order to be able to use it on all systems. You can also view pictures as albums based on the conversation and scroll through them using an application like Picasa, which is what was used in the demo Google gave. In addition to all that, Google Wave also has a built in spell checker for those who are spelling challenged as well as the possibility of there being Google Wave APIs enabling various gadgets that can be added to Google Wave.
If you’d like to learn more about Google wave or possibly get it for yourself in the future you should check out Google’s webpage for this project. There is a 1 hour 20 minute video if you’re really interested which goes into detail about how this works and gives you a live demo.