Need to Know: Google Wave

We look at what all the fuss is about with Google Wave in the latest of our Need to Know cheat sheet series.

The internet is awash with talk of Google Wave. But what is it, why should you care and what can it do for your business? Read on to find out.

What is Google Wave?

Google Wave is a real-time collaboration platform. Made by Google, unsurprisingly it's web based.

"A wave can be both a conversation and a document where people can discuss and work together using richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more," according to the search giant.

But what does that actually mean?

To a certain extent, it looks like Wave builds on the foundation created by Google Docs and its ability to cope with multiple people using the same document and making changes.

But Wave takes the concept one step further, ensuring people can work on a document (whether that be text, images, video, maps and more) and communicate with each other.

If you've ever worked in a business office and had to wave your hands around to get the attention of a co-worker so you can run an idea past them, you'll see what Google Wave is aiming at and, perhaps, named after. Although, much like surfers out at sea, anyone (who is invited or invites) can join a particular wave.

Google claims that a "wave" is a bit of a hybrid. In fact, it's half conversation and half document. But it doesn't just benefit users, there's a great deal of technical goodness on offer to the developer community too, which we'll go onto in a moment.

If you're editing a photo, for example, you should be able to bring people into your world' at any time. But the real beauty is the ability to use playback to rewind the conversation that has just unfolded. If you've ever missed something key in a meeting and wanted to pause real life, this could be right up your street.

And, because it's all live, when something happens, it actually happens on screen too.

When was it launched?

The real answer is it hasn't actually properly launched yet. At present, it's in developer preview mode with 100,000 invites sent out to garner feedback from users who can also help Google to zap any bugs.

It should be available to everyone else next year.

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