Google Wave Update!

By dbaodbao (1261536762|%a, %b %e at %I:%M%p)

After watching the video (below) at the beginning of the year, I've been extremely interested in Google Wave. I mean it makes sense - email can often be a mess, especially when you start sending things back and forth with a group of people. So…I was extremely excited when I scored an invite a week ago!!!

Initial Reactions

From the preview video, I thought using Google Wave would be much more intuitive than it was, although it's easy to adjust fairly quickly. A quick overview of how Wave works: instead of sending an email back and forth between a bunch of people, there is one Wave document that everyone can view and edit in real time. This really means real time - instead of sending an entire document the way you would with email, you can see what people are typing as they type it. This can be really great…but people can also see the typos you are making and anything you start to say (even if you think better of it.) To get things going, you start a wave and drag people into it. Within this wave, you can then track changes, communicate with people in real time and work on documents together. The main appeal to me seems to be significantly improved coordination from "traditional" email, but I'm waiting to discover more cool aspects as I become more familiar with Wave.

Gadgets

So far, the number of Gadgets is limited, but I definitely like the few that I've found so far.
samplegadgets.png
As shown above, the three main gadgets are the poll, map, and ability to play games. The poll allows wave participants to vote "Yes", "No", or "Maybe." I hope that it will become more customizable and allow you to pick your own response options in the future. The map is also editable by all users and can be used to pinpoint locations, share directions or point out locations of interest between people. The only other support gadget so far allows you to play games with other Wave users. One thing that I do really like about Wave is the integration of Google Search. You can perform various searches (images, websites and videos) and paste these directly into your waves. So far, I've had fun playing around with these gadgets and can see myself getting a lot of value out of them in the future.

Future Value

I remember when Gmail came out and it was all the rage because of it's innovate way to organize your email - although it's value was still part of the existing email system, it just excelled at its organization and customizability. While there were features that increase in usefullness as the number of Gmail users grew (how did it anyone make through those boring lectures without Gchat?), you were still able to interact with other people who had not yet jumped on the Gmail bandwagon. That's the thing with Google Wave though: they claim to have integrated all of these cool features from various search engines and social sites into a new method of email, but the value depends significantly on the number of Google Wave users. As I only know a handful of Wave users right now, I have mainly been using Wave as a new way to chat with friends. The feature that allows you to edit what other people have written provides for many chances at entertainment.

Change Notification

One thing that I have become accustomed to with email is being alerted on my phone when I receive a new one. As Wave is still obviously new technology, Google has yet to integrate notification into the everyday function of Wave. In order to see if anyone has updated any of my Waves, I have to actually go to my Wave inbox (which is INCREDIBLY slow on my computer - one of major complaints about Wave. Although this may have something to do with the fact that my computer is about to kick the bucket…but anyway I digress) to check if anyone has updated any waves. Google tells you the time each wave was last updated, but I often have trouble finding exactly what the last edit was. You can always use playback, but this slows things even more and confuses me a little. I will often think that one wave has been edited and been unable to find where exactly the change was, even after using playback. It would be a lot better if Google could automatically replay the changes that have been made since the last time you opened Wave.

Overall

I think the idea of Wave is representative of what Google does best - taking something that everyone takes for granted (flaws and all) and finding a way to make it significantly more efficient and better suited for everyday use. However, I don't think it will replace traditional email anytime in the near future. The nature of what email has come to be used for means that some emails are sent out without the intention of recipient interaction. While Google Wave provides a lot of value in collaboratively working on documents, not all emails are intended for that kind of use. That being said, it's certainly an interesting concept and something cool to play around with. If you have a few friends that already have Google Wave and have extra invites to spare, I would definitely recommend getting one and checking out what Google Wave has to offer. Rating: 8/10

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