After months of waiting, Google's very ambitious new project is finally upon us. Announced back in May, Wave promises to reinvent the way we communicate online. The Wave developers said they started with the question, "what would email look like if it were invented today?"
At the moment, Wave is still in a closed beta, meaning that in order to get in on it, you need to be invited by someone who already has it. The first batch of invites from Google went out a few days ago...and one of them arrived in my inbox.
In a nutshell, Wave is a multi-faceted, real-time communication system. It blends aspects of email, instant messaging, social networking, etc. to create one big conversation. Here's a short video that does a great job describing Wave:
Here's my first impressions after using it for 2 days. In a word: wow. Wave has the potential to seriously change the Internet. Those of you who are just getting used to email had better hold on tight. It's almost as if there's too much potential with it...it's a bit overwhelming. At this point, it's hard to fully grasp just how useful it's going to be. There are so many features already and it's still in a humble preview state.
Wave's success is going to depend on how many people adopt it. Email has been around for so long that everyone already knows how to use it. But Wave is so different, and so revolutionary, that there's a chance people will reject it for the simple reason that it's unfamiliar.
One of Wave's most powerful features is the ability to embed gadgets and robots into conversations. Things like maps, videos, pictures, weather, etc. can all be embedded directly into a conversation and manipulated by all participants. Robots are contacts that can be added to a conversation that extend functionality...for example, there are robots that auto translate into other languages, that post to Twitter, that answer questions, etc.
Personally, I really like Wave. Once more of my friends and contacts get on board, I think it will become a seriously valuable communication tool. If you are able to secure an invite, I highly recommend that you check it out. If you want to learn more, there's an 8 minute video that describes Wave in detail here.