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.

The hard part though at this stage is so see how Wave will come into its own, and really add value. Are email, IM, Facebook, Twitter and Wikis really doing a bad job for most people?

For the end user, coming into contact with Wave for the first time can be confusing. At best it's hard to get to grips with and at worst once could dismiss it as a time waster, that's solving a problem that doesn't need addressing.

Google stock use case for individuals is to help plan a trip through messaging and being able to pull in pictures, videos and maps.

apps

Enterprise collaboration though seems a more natural fit and we've already taken a look at how Google Wave could work for businesses.

It's easy to see how it could appeal, for example, to those working on projects with multiple people in disparate locations. One function touted is to make a modern conference call platform, with it able to call all users phones automatically, saving time on set up, and then making it easy to share a presentation. It also seems like a natural fit as a CRM solution, with projects monitored and managed in different Waves.

As it stands, it's still very much a developer's plaything though, and right now it is they rather than end users that will have the most fun with Google Wave. It is really up to their ingenuity to take Google Wave on, and make something of it, but once they have, its position may become a little clearer.

Google has a history of working on projects that appear in a blaze of glory and then quietly fizzle out, but we'd be loathed to suggest that this will happen to Wave. At the moment we do see this as a niche product that will blossom when developers have worked out ways of using the platform, but for mainstream use we think plain old email is safe for now.

Verdict

Google Wave is an intriguing mix of email, chat and wiki and comes out as something entirely new. The information flow can be overwhelming and it could put off many who have been sold by the hype. However, once developers have got to grips with it, this could prove to be another hit for Google, though perhaps not as widespread as it clearly hopes.

Browsers supported: Google Chrome, Mozilla Firefox, Apple Safari, Internet Explorer (with Chrome Frame plug-in)

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