Tag Archives | Collaboration

Google Wave Opens Up, Finally

At 2009’s Google I|O developer conference, the big news was the debut of the company’s uberambitious Wave workgroup service. And it was big news: I got all giddy and called it the new epicenter of the Google-Microsoft wars; my friend Jordan Golson, on the other hand, thought it was breathtakingly arrogant.

And then not a lot happened. The service stayed in private beta. It was a hot ticket for awhile, but a running gag quickly developed: “Hey, I got into Google Wave–now what?” References to chirping crickets were common. After a while, people stopped talking about Wave much, period. The world moved on to other subjects–like the vaguely Wavelike Google Buzz.

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Google Wave Tiptoes Its Way Into Google Apps

Google Wave LogoYou gotta think that if Google’s communications/collaboration uberapp Wave lives up to even half of its considerable hype and promise, it’ll be the signature application within Google Apps someday. For now, it remains in private beta and isn’t part of Google Apps. But Google is saying it’ll let some companies and schools into the beta this fall, and hopes to roll out Wave to all Apps users sometime next year.

Wave’s slow-motion debut is strikingly different from Google’s more typical modus operandi of springing new stuff on the world only when it’s ready to try (as it did with Chrome a year ago). It’s a necessary approach given that Wave is as much an ambitious developer platform as an end-user product. But I suspect that it also means that the Wave that makes its way to general release in 2010 may be significantly different from the one Google has demoed to date. Which makes Wave even harder to judge. We know that Google is excited about it, and developers seem enthusiastic. Now we just need to find out if real people understand it and want it.


Is Wave Bloatware?

Google Wave LogoGoogle has published a video of this morning’s demo of Wave–its radically ambitious upcoming service which aims to be what e-mail should be and meld it with IM, allow for real-time document sharing, provide instant photo sharing, revolutionize spell checking,  provide on-the-fly translation, and allow developers to either build on top of the service or replace it with their own underpinnings, among other things. It’s an hour and twenty minutes long, and doesn’t get through all the things one might want to know about Wave. Here, I’ll embed it right here and wait while you watch it:

All finished?

Among the many interesting questions about Wave is this: Is it bloatware? It’s not ready for release yet, and it appears to already be bursting at the seams with functionality. Screenshots show a service that crams dozens of features, options, and snippets of information onto the screen–less an example of Google-esque minimalism and more like a Microsoft app that’s been through a few versions and is shoehorning stuff in.

Unlike my friend Jordan Golson, I don’t see Wave as a sign of breathtaking Google arrogance–at least not if the company comes up with a reasonable game plan to roll it out to the business users who are apparently its primary target. But I do worry about it suffering from Kitchen Sink Disease. I’m looking forward to trying it out soon and forming opinions based on actually using the thing…


Forget Google Apps: Google Wave is the New Epicenter of the Google-Microsoft War

Google Wave LogoI’m at the keynote for day two of Google’s I/O developer conference, where it’s extremely clear that Google decided to save its big news for the second day. The company is announcing Google Wave, a new service which–well, it’s one of the most ambitious services that Google or anyone else has cooked up? How ambitious? Project leader Lars Rasmussen says that it began with the question “What might e-mail look like if it were invented today?” And that bold idea seems like it’s understating Wave’s audacity, if anything.

I’m not sure if I can describe Wave in one coherent sentence. It:

  • Is a service that looks like a rich piece of client software;
  • Behaves like sophisticated threaded e-mail;
  • Acts like IM when multiple collaborators are online at once.
  • Is one of the most real-time collaborative tools I’ve ever seen.
  • Has revision marking and versioning for workgroup editing.
  • Has instant photo sharing.
  • Allows its functionality to be embedded into blogs and social networks;
  • Can serve as a container for OpenSocial applications;
  • Has what Google says is a revolutionary spell checker;
  • Comes in mobile flavors for Android and iPhone;
  • Is an open-source project that lets developers write both Wave extensions (we saw one that grabs tweets and brings them into Wave) and their own servers (which can talk to other Wave servers).

I’m probably skipping or forgetting about a third of the things that Google mentioned…and I’m pretty sure it didn’t detail everything about Wave in the 90-minute demo.

Just how well all this work remains to be seen, but Google is trying to release something that’s remarkably dense with features–it looks like it’s trying to be a 5.0 product released as a beta. And even though the demo is ending now, there was a lot that didn’t get answered, such as whether Wave will be capable of replacing an e-mail client (assuming the world doesn’t immediately dump e-mail for Wave) and whether Google plans to sell Wave as a service to enterprises, as it does Google Apps. I also didn’t hear details on when Google expects Wave to be fully available.

Gut reaction: Wave, not Google Docs, is Google’s big attempt to take on Microsoft head-to-head in the world of corporate productivity. It’s not an Outlook clone–and Outlook does vital everyday things that Wave doesn’t seem to, at least yet–but it clearly wants to be the application that the worl’d businesspeople live in.

More thoughts later (we I/O attendees are supposed to get early access to Wave), but for now, a few screens after the jump. As you’ll see, the service does so much that the UI itself looks like it’s fairly bursting at the seams with stuff.

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