The future isn't what it used to be, not since I tried Wave, the new email/personal message/everything service from Google.[rssbreak]
The search-engine-company-turned-Web-innovator this week began shipping off invites to Wave, and Web Jam was lucky enough to get one.
Reviews, however, are beside the point. Even before trials begin, Wave has made an impact. Emailing and instant messaging have remained more or less unchanged for nearly 40 years. Both are due for updates, and Google Wave has successfully pushed the issue, introducing the notion that emailing as we know it is dead.
Or, in the words of its creator, "Wave is what email would look like if it were invented today."
It's the product of a brainwave conceived in 2004 by Google developer Jens Rasmussen, based in the Web company's Sydney, Australia, office. It was put on hold when Rasmussen and his developer brother Lars began another project, and work on Wave did not resume until 2007.
The outcome of that other project, the awe-inspiring and omnipresent Google Maps, has given the brothers Rasmussen a reputation for something of a golden touch. So, needless to say, expectations are high.
Here's a short introduction to how it works:
Essentially, Wave has the same easy-to-use attributes as all Google's other products - it's just that there's way more to use.
When you receive a traditional email, it's placed in a chronological queue of other emails, one stacked atop the other. In Google Wave, exchanges are less like a back-and-forth and more like one email that gets added to.
Collaborators on a Wave can add replies that look more like direct comments on the subject at hand - great for long threads that become confusing, even in Gmail. And if it does get confusing, a playback feature will show you exactly how the conversation shook down.
And now for the bells and whistles: Wave allows for embeddable gadgets, drag-and-drop photo sharing and real-time language translation, to name a few.
For example, you invite your Brazilian girlfriend to dinner by sending a Wave containing the invite, immediately translated into Portuguese, followed by "yes I would love to/no way, you creep" button, a photo of the restaurant and embedded Google map.
Basically, the functionality of Wave is through the roof.
Though it still has to integrate Gmail contacts, if not messages as well, Wave is a safe bet for success.
For those following Web Jam, it will come as no surprise that Wave gets a wholehearted endorsement. I generally adore Google as the world's greatest publicly minded corporation and have taken to all its inventions. Wave is no exception. It's ambitious, innovative, crazy useful and, no matter the public reaction, game-changing.
To add to that, I have a leftover invite. The first commenter on this article will receive it - just make sure to put an email address in - and see exactly what I mean.