For those of you who are current Twitter users and read technological news websites you might be aware that Google will soon release a new product called ‘Google Wave’ which is currently in the early stages of testing and is available to a select few.
Well, here at I-COM we’ve been lucky enough to have been using it for the past few weeks, so we thought we would give you our opinion of this new Google product.
So what is Google Wave?
Well if you used Microsoft’s MSN Messenger tool, you may well be familiar with the group chat function where you can talk to multiple people in the same messenger window - this function forms the backbone of Google Wave, as seen in the screen shot below:
Google Wave essentially offers the ability to chat as a group but with the added functionality of file and picture sharing. The term 'wave' is what Google uses to reference each group discussion, with the ability to save or run multiple ‘waves’ at any one time and organize them into folders. There are also Google ‘Gadgets’ such as simple voting tools and Google Maps. These gadgets suggest that like iGoogle, Google Wave will in future have more gadgets available to add extra functionality for users. Also like MSN Messenger there is also the ability to send private messages between users.
What are Google Wave's Negatives?
Well this tool is very much still in the early stages of testing and may change quite dramatically over the coming months as it goes through the second stage of testing (BETA) and then its full release. Currently the biggest complaint (at least here at I-COM) about Google Wave is the ability to edit other users' messages and comments. What this boils down to is that it is possible to vandalize what other has said within each discussion. You can even edit the messages of others while they type.
To make this product more usable it is likely the some of Google’s work on bug fixes will centre on what people are and are not able to edit. There are also various other issues with how the interface feels to use and the way information is laid out on each page, meaning the product is very ‘clunky’ to use and navigate.
It also crashes regularly.
What are its positives?
Well, the fact that you can track and participate in multiple conversations with different groups of people from a single webpage is fantastic. The ability to bring people into the same virtual rooms to discuss things and share information is nothing new to business, but often these tools are highly expensive, unlike Google Wave which will be a free offering from Google if they follow their current business model.
Possible uses of Google Wave
There are various uses from an internal perspective for sharing information between staff or remote workers. From a commercial perspective the main possibilities for the use of Google Wave centre on using it to conduct virtual customer feedback forums where you could actively manage complaints and feedback on your services and products.