A few months ago Google released a video demoing their revolutionary product, Google Wave. It promises to be everything Google is as a whole, all rolled up into one easy to use interface, not to mention make email obsolete. That's a pretty big promise, and if anyone can accomplish something so huge it's Google.
If you watched the entire hour and twenty minute video or read anything about Wave, you know a little about what it's capable of, but even so, you probably weren't one of the lucky folks to make it into the beta to test the software. That's where we come in.
First logging into Wave, I'll admit, was overwhelming. We had all watched the whole demo video, and I felt I understood the interface and how it worked. The good news is that the overwhelming feeling goes away pretty quickly. If you're like most and have a Gmail account, you'll notice that the interface is set up to mimic the Gmail interface.
In the center of interface is the Wave inbox. This is just like your inbox in your email, with the subject of the wave, and the icon or avatar of some of the people in the wave. On the left side of the interface will be a link to start a new wave. This will open a window to the right of the inbox one where any current wave you are interacting with will be. From here is where the magic all happens. Also note these windows are collapsible so you can maximize your screen real estate with what you are currently reading or maybe just hide your inbox during a meeting to stay focused.
Basically Google will allow you to do just about anything you could think of inside of a wave, and this is why it has the potential to be the biggest thing to happen to the Internet since…well since email. The wave combines Gmail, Gtalk, Google documents, Google maps and probably some other Google things that I can't remember.
That means if you want to send an email, instant message, directions with a map, or create an entire collaborative presentation or document that everyone can edit in real time – you can do it all with a wave. Plus, you can drag and drop photos from your PC, or Google image search and you can even embed YouTube videos straight into the wave. Sounds like a lot of content to suddenly fall into if you get added to a wave late. Google thought of that and made it possible to use what that call a playback ability to see the progression of the wave from the beginning – edit by edit.
Of course the ability to install extensions means that Google Wave has unlimited potential. Right now there are only a few basic extensions created for the beta, like a yes/no/maybe chart for decision making with your friends, a weather extension, and a couple map and trip builders. The most basic, but probably the most convenient is the Google Search extension that comes by default. Anything you search within this small window can be inserted into the wave for others to see.
The most amazing of the extensions Google has in the works though, is the universal translator. Though it's not quite complete, Google did demo it in the video, and it did allow them to translate from one language to the next in real time, and with Wave's ability to display all sorts of characters, the language possibilities are seemingly endless. Though, there are also some addons for things like prettying your code so you can share HTML/MySQL/PHP/etc. code while developing and have it look nice and be color coded. There are so many possibilities with the bots/addons that can be created we are all very excited.
We're very impressed with the ambition and the ease of use of the program. The Google design team has thought of almost everything when it comes to things like drag-and-drop, which makes the program so much easier to use. As a challenge, we tried to figure out how many different ways we could do the same action within a wave. (I'm not sure we've named a winner yet.)
It's important to mention that some news has come out suggesting that Wave will have some security issues with bots, but seeing as how it's not officially released yet, it's unfair to assume that Google won't deal with that before release.
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