After whinging loudly about not having access to the Google Wave preview, Santa GOOG dropped an invite off in my inbox last night. Sadly I have no invites to give you, but I want to share the love how I can. Last night I held a Wave Q&A on Twitter, where folks asked anything they wanted to know about the app and I did my best to answer. I'm no Wave expert, but now that I've got my dirty little paws on it I had some insights and screenshots to share. The question and answer transcript is here, plus those images.
Click to see the full-sized version of any image in this post.
Before we start A'ing the Q's, know that the best place to see and hear what Wave's all about is in the full demonstration video. Seriously, that's a must-watch. If you don't have an hour+ to spare, check out the highlight reel instead.
Here are some of the questions I got on Twitter, and my responses.
Q: Explain it in 140 characters, please. I'm still a bit in the shadow about what it DOES. —roxaloxa
A: Simplest terms: Google Wave is Gmail on crack. Imagine Gmail, Google Talk, and Google Docs in one big inbox.
Q: Does Wave require a Gmail ID? —Nightwyrm
A: For the dev preview, I got a new Google Apps login at wavesandbox.com; not sure if regular Gmail will work at release. Update, on further thought: While right now a Google account is required for the dev preview, since the protocol is open and can be hosted on other servers, it's possible a Google Account won't be a requirement. I hope that's the case.
Q: Share a cool use case example please! —strawp
A: Personally I'm dying to co-write a Lifehacker post with @adampash on it! That's one cool use case! Also, it's killer group chat.
Q:i wud like to know wht more features r going to b added up into Wave and mostly imp is when can it b made access to evryone —krishnat
A: I don't have a new features crystal ball beyond the ones already demo'ed, but it's supposed to go live later this year.
Q: What is wave like in terms of speed? I wonder about its real world performance (like how gmail is sometimes less than perfect) —graemehunter
A: The dev preview is super snappy, you get character by character live updates as your recipient types, real-time. Clarification, on further thought and usage: The dev preview is still pretty unstable, with regular crashes that require a refresh. We'll only know what its real world performance will be like when it's out there!
Q: Would you consider Google Wave a "Facebook Killer"?? —jmnova
A: IMO Google Wave won't be a Facebook killer, but I can see it subsuming Gmail, GTalk, and to some extent, GDocs.
Q: Will Wave be a Basecamp killer? —suzero
A: IMO not a Basecamp killer (Google Wave isn't a project mgt app), but it will give Campfire a run for its money. Update: And maybe Backpack.
Q: How well does it federate with email? —DenubisX
A: The email federation question is a GREAT one. It doesn't right now, AFAIK, but I can't imagine it won't by release or soon after. Update: Rafe Needleman reported that the makers of Wave are holding off on email integration to keep it as spam-free as possible. Will be interesting to see how the email federation issue plays out.
Q: So is it similar to a whiteboard sharing via WLM and some collaborative doc. editors? what makes GWave unique in that? —Miles312
A: Yes, it feels like screensharing or one of those collaborative text editors. Just, you know, in the browser.
Q: Do you find yourself thinking more carefully before you type since the recipient can see it in real time? —seancron
A: Yes! The checkbox that will let you turn off realtime updates isn't enabled yet!
Update: You can easily create and distribute polls amongst your Wave contacts, as shown here.
Q: Any news on when it will actually be available to the masses? —diptychal
A: If I'm not mistaken, at Google IO they said Wave will be available to the public "later this year."
Q: What's your favorite gWave feature? —Miles312
A: I love the SubEthaEdit-like collaborative editing (chasing cursors is fun!); also, wave playback is fantastic.
Q: 1st of all does wave work seamless between windows & apple and also in secure business architectures, thanx? —alexisvandam
A: Yup, it's a web application so only a browser is required, all operating systems. Your Wave session is encrypted, too (https).
Q: Is it really different from existing wiki or groups? —Hellchico
A: It isn't. The Ah-ha! is the combination of features from wikis, email, IM, VCS, blogs & doc managers into one interface.
Q: Do you think it's going to change everything about how we interact with each other? (Of course!) How soon will the change be? —joannbc
A: I wouldn't say Google Wave is going to "change everything"; but it does take online communication/collaboration to the next level.
Q: Dug Wave real-time blog updates. Might B cool to see your fav bloggers as they work. Might be lil' creepy 4 the blogger though! —VerbalKint
A: It's totally embarrassing to know that your recipient can see all your ugly typos happen live (even when you correct them!) Update, on further usage: Everyone feels this way, and after a few chats you get used to it. It's really fun watching a message come to life as it happens, though it's a little less efficient, too. (If you watch someone type continuously, it's slower than just reading the finished product of that typing.)
Q: Can you peel off a wave into a side convo? —learningashland
A: Yes, you can copy a wave into a new wave and drop other contacts onto it to have a side convo.
Q: Now you mention it, how good is the integration between Wave and the other Google products??? Is it the app to rule them all?? —jmnova
A: Still early, but right now you can embed maps, YouTube videos and Google search results into a Wave. Definitely more to come. Update, on further use: I've also got the blogger integration going. Here's my Wave blog.
Q: Will it help me to move through my daily 2.0 site slog quicker? Too much time in all this, need a centralized tool... —WadeBiery
A: Right now it puts messaging (email & IM) and document collaboration in one place, and more to come with extensions...
Q: How does it work cross browser/platform, memory usage? —farhanlalji
A: so far so good on Safari & Firefox on my Mac. I'll keep an eye on memory usage and report back.
Q: How can Wave help cope with info overload? Do u forsee there being a problem getting 2 Wave Zero like email? Does realtime help —seancron
A: Google Wave has all the info (overload) mechanisms Gmail does: archiving, tagging, advanced search operators. Plus folders!
Q: Is Google Wave close to iPhone/mobile browser friendly? —rossm
A: It's not compatible with the current Android browser (haven't tried iPhone yet) but as the demo vid showed, it will be.
Q: When's it supposed to launch? And is it integrated with reader? —bgribin
A: later this year, & I didn't see Google Reader integration... yet. Since it's extensible, that seems inevitable eventually, though.
Q: What browser are you waving in? —lnorvig
A: So far I've waved in both Firefox 3.0 and Safari 4.0, it worked well in both (tho I hear it's even faster in the Chrome nightly)
Q: Is receiving and sending single messages quick or are there extra actions required. cheers —light50
A: As quick as sending an email; quicker if your recipient is online (b/c s/he could see the message as you type it).
Q: Tell us if Google Wave is really the future of online communication —jakeaking
A: Haha, I don't have a crystal ball, but it IS very promising!
Q: Do you see yourself using Wave on a daily basis? —mjf
A: Could be my excitement about the novelty talking, but once all my contacts are on Wave, I could see using it instead of Gmail entirely.
Q: Is it as fast as the demo showed? Oh, and can you get every single one of us on Google Wave? No, aww. Please? No? Well, dangit. —RobinRamael
A: Yes, it is as fast as the demo showed. It's truly a WHOAH! moment the first time you watch your contact edit a wave live.
Q: What does the inbox look like? And what does the wave document look like? What's different? (fun! Thanks!) —learningashland
A: Here, have a few screenshots.
Note: Stills don't do Google Wave justice, but until I can rustle up some screencasts, click on any of the images in this post to get a closer look.
If you have more questions about Wave, post 'em in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer. Sadly I don't have invites or any kind of special magic trick that will get you into the preview; but do make sure you put your name in the hat.
(In case you were wondering, I compiled this Q&A using a Twitter app I've got in development.)