May 31, 2009

Introducing Google Wave: Email will change for ever

Google Wave, a product that helps users communicate and collaborate on the web, is Google’s new real-time communication platform that will launch to the public later this year. A wave is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more. A wave, specifically, refers to a specific threaded conversation. It can include just one person, or it can include a group of users or even robots. The best comparison is it is like your entire instant messaging (IM) history with someone. Anything you’ve ever discussed in a single chat or conversation is a wave.

It combines aspects of email, instant messaging, wikis, web chat, social networking, and project management to build one elegant, in-browser communication client. You can bring a group of friends or business partners together to discuss how your day has been or share files. The service seems to combine Gmail and Google Docs into an interesting free-form workspace that could be used to write documents collaboratively, plan events, play games or discuss recent news.

Google Wave has a lot of innovative features, but here are just a few:

Real-time: In most instances, you can see what someone else is typing, character-by-character.
Embeddability: Waves can be embedded on any blog or website.
Applications and Extensions: Just like a Facebook application or an iGoogle gadget, developers can build their own apps within waves. They can be anything from bots to complex real-time games.
Wiki functionality: Anything written within a Google Wave can be edited by anyone else, because all conversations within the platform are shared. Thus, you can correct information, append information, or add your own commentary within a developing conversation.
Open source: The Google Wave code will be open source, to foster innovation and adoption amongst developers.
Playback: You can playback any part of the wave to see what was said.
Natural language: Google Wave can autocorrect your spelling, even going as far as knowing the difference between similar words, like “been” and “bean.” It can also auto-translate on-the-fly.
Drag-and-drop files sharing: No attachments; just drag your file and drop it inside Google Wave and everyone will have access.

Google Wave was the brainchild of a team based out of Sydney, Australia. The core team members are two brothers, Jens and Lars Rasmussen, and lead project manager Stephanie Hannon, all of whom were involved in Google Maps previously. Google Wave was announced on May 28, 2009 at Google’s I/O Developer conference, although the product will not be available to the public for several months.


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