Mark Bult Design: San Francisco, CA, Established 1988

Web design and development for small and large business, e-commerce, b2b, b2c, SAAS, and community websites. User experience design and usability testing.

Friday, May 29, 2009

Google’s new Wave

Google has announced Wave, a pretty impressive new collaboration communication platform which comes in part from the inventors of Google Maps. Wave will be open source, with a bunch of APIs for developers to build off of right away (although Wave itself won’t launch to the public until later this year).

There will be plenty of analysis on the web, but I wanted to mention a few innovations that I predict are potentially game changing for certain segments of the tech community.

The video’s long, 1:20:11, so I’ve noted some prime spots to hit below.

One of the innovations seen in the demo will considerably improve chat, and I’m predicting we’ll see it engineered into other chat products like Yahoo! IM and AIM eventually. Wave allows you to see the real-time, character-by-character view of what the other person is typing, so you’re not spending half your conversation looking at a “So-And-So is typing...” message [see 10:10]. It allows your brain to start formulating responses before the other person has finished typing, more like a natural spoken conversation. Quite simply, this is going to revolutionize chat.

The app is written in HTML 5, so it’s going to be a while before we see all browsers catching up to this app. It also includes one functionality that isn’t even in the HTML 5 spec yet, but since it’s such a useful one, they’ve proposed adding it to the HTML 5 spec. It’s an easy drag and drop upload function that allows you to add documents to a conversation by simply dragging them from your desktop to the browser window [see 15:05]. I’m guessing the developer community will show considerable support for this capability, so the Google Wave team’s addition might make it into HTML 5.

Waves can be embedded into other services (they demoed with Google’s own products Blogger and Orkut), and one of the coolest things is that you can live-update a blog while people are watching, much like the character-by-character chatting [see 19:20 and 28:00 min]. This will enable live-bloging in a way that the term hasn’t really lived up to until now, and I think we’ll see a host of new live-publishing products spring from this.

The inline spellchecking is a new innovation too. Unlike most spellcheckers, which compare your words to a dictionary, Wave’s spellchecker compares your words and phrases to an index from the entire Web. The results, in the demo anyway, are impressive [see 44:00 min]. I think we can assume this technology will start showing up in other Google products pretty soon too.

Last but not least is a real-time language translator (already with 40 languages), which allows one to break down language barriers even during an live chat session, so you can be speaking/typing in one language, and your counterpart can be speaking/typing in another, and you’ll see each other’s words being translated on the fly, while they’re being typed [see 1:12:00].

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