Google Wave is an online tool for real time communication and collaboration. First announced at the Google I/O Conference on May 27, 2009 and reached almost 1 million users since September 30 when preview testing started with an initial 100,000 users each with 20 invites. I was finally invited to Google Wave a few days ago.
According to Google, Google Wave is a web-based application, computing platform and communications protocol designed to merge e-mail, instant messaging, wikis, social networking.
When for first receive your invite, you need to click on a special link in the email you will receive. Please note that Google batch sends invites so you will not receive an invite immediately after a friend or someone else sent them, usually takes a few days. After you click that link, and sign in with your Google account, you’re ready to go! Please note that these links are one time use only so if you have multiple Google accounts, sign in with the one you want to use Wave with. Also, if you happen to receive multiple invites, you can give the link to a friend. Don’t waste these invites.
To reply to a wave, click the bottom border of any reply. You can also delete replies, edit replies (including others), and much more.
Wave also comes with an extensions API where users can build extensions to extend Wave’s functionality. Two built in extensions are Google Maps embed and the Yes/No/Maybe Gadget. The Google Maps embed is straightforward. Just hit Reply, and on the toolbar on top, click Map and select the location. The Yes/No/Maybe gadget lets you make a poll within your wave with the answer choices of Yes, No, and Maybe, such as the following.
It seems strange but when you click the Settings button, you get a list of waves also. This is because the settings and options for Google Waves are actually private waves themselves. You can find the list of current extensions on Google.
Many of the extensions are bots so you have to add them to your contact list and then add them to the Wave. For example, to add the bit.ly bot to the wave, add firstname.lastname@example.org to your contacts list and then add it to the wave. This particular bot automatically shortens URLs you enter.
There doesn’t seem to be a way to permanently install a gadget yet but you can add a gadget to any wave by clicking the green puzzle button on the top toolbar when you are in a reply box and then copying the URL of the gadget. For example, if you want to add the iFrame gadget, you would copy the URL: http://wave-ide.appspot.com/iframe.xml. This particular gadget lets you embed any web page into the wave reply through iFrame.
Contacts sync with Google Contacts and it will automatically detect users who have a Google Wave account and add them to your list. In addition, the person who invited you will automatically be added as well.
At the time of writing, the Files menu at the bottom is grayed out however, you can add files by dragging and dropping it from Windows Explorer (or other file managers). This feature requires Google Gears to be installed. You can add just about any type of file you want and it will automatically upload.
There is also a playback feature allowing you to sit back and watch the conversation playback to you.
You can also make some waves public allowing anyone to join. To do this, simply add email@example.com to your contact list. When it says that the user does not have a Google Wave account, hit Enter anyway. Then add firstname.lastname@example.org to a wave and that wave becomes public. For other users to access the public wave, they have to type in in:public followed by the title you give the wave. The title is the first post in the wave. Be careful with this right now because a current known bug is that there is no way to remove someone from a wave.
As the conversation progresses, Google Wave can get extremely laggy. I tried joining the Lifehacker Public Wave, but the conversation was so large, I was greeted with the following message everytime I tried:
At its current pre-release status, Google Wave seems quite like an enhanced form of threaded emails.
I currently do not have any invites because Google only gives users a few invites when they need new preview users. This reminds me of Gmail’s launch back in April 2004.
What plans does Google have for Wave? Only the future knows.
If you are a current Google Wave Preview user, you may want to check out Lifehacker’s Google Wave 101 for shortcuts, guides, and more.