Google Wave review: first look

Google Wave has been the most hyped product on the internet since the introduction of Google’s Gmail. We take a look at what it’s got to offer and ask if it really is going to replace email.

If you're in any way tuned into the online tech universe, you will have noticed the wires buzzing with noise over Google Wave, the latest technology to come out of the idea factory that is Google.

An early version of Google Wave has been available to developers since its I/O conference' back in late May, but in the last few weeks invitations to join have been sent to a selected few who signed up for access, or for those nominated by those who already have accounts. These have been limited in numbers and have taken a long while to get through Google's system and, as such, these invitations are like gold dust.

The frenzy has been such that invites have even been placed on eBay, making it the most hyped new event online since Gmail.

Thankfully, IT PRO has finally gained access without having to resort to eBay and since then we've been trying to get our heads round this innovative but also confusing application.

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The project has been headed up by the Rasmussen brothers, who first developed the Google Maps project. But Google does have a reputation for getting excited about projects and then getting distracted by the next big thing and for for every Google Maps, there's also a Google Lively.

Wave1

So will Google Wave turn into a tsunami or will it crash and disappear on the rocks of indifference?

At the I/O conference, Lars Rasmussen, Google's software engineering manager, explained that Google Wave was Google's take on what email would look like if it was re-invented today. As he observed, email was a system that was invented some 40 years ago, long before the world wide web as we know it. Email simply mimics snail mail, while instant messaging is a text version of the phone call. Things have got rather more sophisticated since then, with blogs, wikis and bulletin boards among the many other ways of communicating.

So what is Google Wave? It is at its most basic a way of communicating and perhaps most importantly with collaborating with either one, or a great many people. In true Google style, it is a technology that works entirely in the browser, using HTML5 code, and as such works in Chrome, Safari, and Firefox but not in Opera, and in Internet Explorer only if using Google's Chrome Frame workaround.

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