There has been a great deal of excitement about Google Wave and rightly so. Google arguably spun email on its head when it introduced Gmail in 2004 with a then-game changing 1GB of storage and threaded email, and it believes Wave is the next step in its evolution. Now today Google will attempt to make believes of us all with the first public beta.
30 September sees Google send out over 100,000 invitations to preview Google Wave. These will largely be taken up by developers, users who signed up to preview the software at wave.google.com and select customers of Google Apps. Further invites will then be sent out based on recommendations made by this initial 100,000. "This, of course, will just be the beginning," said the company on its official blog. "If all goes well we will soon be inviting many more to try out Google Wave."
The initial build of Wave focuses on scalability, stability, speed and usability and Google admits a number of key featuers have yet to be implemented. This includes removing a participant from a wave and defining groups of users, while draft mode is still missing and you can't configure the permissions of users on a wave.
"Despite all this, we believe you will find that Google Wave has the potential for making you more productive when communicating and collaborating. Even when you're just having fun! " said Google engineering manager Lars Rasmussen and Group Product manager Stephanie Hannon in a post they say they worked on together with Wave. "We use it ourselves everyday for everything from planning pub crawls to sharing photos, managing release processes and debating features to writing design documents."
For those needing a quick refresh, Google refers to Wave as "What Might Email Look Like If It Were Invented Today." To quote my own previous description: in essence Google Wave works in threads known as Waves where all forms of content are grouped by user/contact groups not type. Information is handled in real time and cross collaboration on documents and presentations can be witnessed each key stroke or mouse click at a time. The platform is open source and the API has been available to developers since May allowing them to build tools such as WordPress plug-ins, games and more.
Such a sheer rush of information sounds terrifying, but Google assures us we already have to do all this every day, just across many different sites using separate programmes and therefore working far less efficiently.
We've in the hat for a Google Wave preview, so fingers crossed we'll be able to let you know if this is the greatest invention since the wheel, or just another Segway...
Update: The Google Wave team has finally put out a shorter video explaining the service. This one is still 10 minutes long, but the previous one was 80 minutes, so count yourself lucky!
Google Blog Post