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Google Wave is “a personal communication and collaboration tool” announced by Google at the Google I/O conference on May 27, 2009. It is a web-based service, computing platform, and communications protocol designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wiki, and social networking. It has a strong collaborative and real-time focus supported by extensions that can provide, for example, robust spelling/grammar checking, automated translation between 40 languages, and numerous other extensions. It was announced in Google’s official blog on July 20, 2009, that the preview of Google Wave would be extended to about 100,000 users on September 30, 2009.

Its October 2, 09 and I am still waiting for my wave invitation :)

Google Wave is designed as the next generation of Internet communication. It is written in Java using OpenJDK; its web interface uses the Google Web Toolkit. Instead of sending a message and its entire thread of previous messages or requiring all responses to be stored in each user’s inbox for context, objects known as waves contain a complete thread of multimedia messages (blips) and are located on a central server. Waves are shared and collaborators can be added or removed at any point during a wave’s existence.

Waves, described by Google as “equal parts conversation and document”, are hosted XML documents that allow seamless and low latency concurrent modifications. Any participant of a wave can reply anywhere in the message, edit the content and add participants at any point in the process. Users can reply to blips within waves. Recipients are notified of changes/replies in all waves they are active in and then view the changes when they subsequently access a given wave. In addition, waves are live. All replies/edits are seen real-time, letter by letter, as they are typed by the other collaborators. Multiple participants may edit a single wave simultaneously in Google Wave. Thus, waves not only can function as e-mail and threaded conversations but also as an instant messaging service, merging the functions of e-mail and instant messaging. It depends only on whether both users are online at the same time or not, allowing a wave to even shift repeatedly between e-mail and instant messaging depending on the user’s needs. The ability to show messages as they are typed can also be disabled, similar to conventional instant messaging.

The ability to modify a wave at any location lets users create collaborative documents, edited in a manner akin to wikis.

The history of each wave is stored within it. Collaborators may use a playback feature in Google Wave to observe the order which a wave was edited, blips were added, and who was responsible for what in the wave. The history may also be searched by a user to view and/or modify specific changes, such as specific kinds of changes or messages from a single user.

Google Wave is still in active development. It is expected to continue to be so until later in 2009, launching to about 100,000 users on 30th September. Google Wave access can be requested. Developers have been given access to Wave proper, and all wave users invited by Google can invite up to 8 others. Those who receive indirect invitations (were invited by someone who was invited by Google) will not be able to invite others. As of October 1st, Google Wave testers were unable to add extensions because “settings” is under construction.

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