As some of you may have heard, Google Wave started its first ‘wave’ of beta testing. Wednesday September 30, Google sent out over 100,000 preview invitations to developers, businesses, universities, and early bird beta testers who signed up first. Some of these users were even encouraged to nominate other people to receive early invitations, because Google Wave is much more useful when someone you know is using it too.
What exactly is Wave?
It’s Google’s new real time communication platform. It seems that not only searches are going real time, but also the web itself. With Google Wave you can keep track of email, videos, instant messaging, social networking, wikis, tweets, documents, and projects, all within a single in-browser application. It is organized in a hybrid email inbox / instant messaging layout that allows you to easily see who you are connected to, and what is going on in your wave.
Some of the features of Google Wave are:
- Wiki-style editing– Waves are editable and viewable just like any wiki article, though privacy settings do exist.
- Real time typing– See what others are typing, character by character, as they edit a wave.
- Playback– If you gain access to a wave late in the conversation or editing, you can play it back to see how things came about.
Gadgets and robots– Both are extensions, gadgets being more like add-ons or widgets and robots being more like the automated bots of our instant messaging past.
- Embedding– You can embed a wave anywhere, from websites to blogs.
These are just a few of Google Wave’s features, and as you can see they are unlike anything we have seen before. Whether that’s a good thing or not, time will tell. But the best functionality of Google Wave I have seen is by far the open source capabilities.
Wave Open Source
Because Google supplies a standard of operation using an extension of XMPP also called the Open Wave Federation Protocol, anyone can build a custom Wave system and become a wave provider. A key feature of this protocol is that waves are stored on the provider’s servers. This means you could set up a wave server at TrueShare, and provide Wave services to customers as well as Wave integration into the TrueShare system.
Google also plans to release the Wave source code so the public can develop extensions such as the gadgets and robots discussed above. Much like Firefox, there will be an extension library where users can access these extensions for use in their waves. One example of a truly amazing gadget is Ribbit, which will allow for coworkers to enter their phone numbers (which are kept private) so when someone clicks the Start Conference button, it dials all of the numbers. Teams can then hold a conference call while collaborating on documents inside of a wave.
With Google Wave in beta testing, it’s easy to get excited about the future of online communication and collaboration. It could be a great leap in technology that takes over the way we do business on the internet, or a giant flop of confusing innovation that the world is not ready for. I see great potential in Google Wave, and believe its success lays solely on the shoulders of the extension developers.
If you want to get a sneak peek at Google Wave and see what all the hype is about, sign up to get an invitation at https://services.google.com/fb/forms/wavesignup/.
Or if you’d just like to get a more indepth explaination, let the creators of Wave from Google show you in this video (1 hr 20 mins long).
So what do you think about Google Wave? Will it be the future of online communication?