My experience with Google Wave: First Impressions

Filed in Technology | Thoughts 2 Comments

Having had the opportunity to use Google Wave for about two weeks, thanks to one of my co-workers, I’ve found Google Wave to be very useful on many levels, and I definitely see a future for this technology. However, given that invitees via the 100,000 core invites (or what seems to be more now with the recent news that Google Wave has been releasing more invites) don’t have the ability to give out invites, it’s not really useful to me until I have the ability to invite people I would work with or use the features.

– As of right now, the ‘Trash’ button is not functioning. I cannot move a wave into my Trash bin, and it remains in my Inbox, which I find frustrating. Updated after I wrote this: The trash is now fixed.
– When I press ‘space’, it is supposed to take me to the first unread message in a wave, but if there are any applications / bots in any of the messages, Wave has difficulty moving past this message.
– I’ve gotten ‘script unresponsive’ errors a few times now in Chrome in viewing waves that are huge, so I end up just exiting and reloading Google Wave.
– My inbox tells me I have an unread wave, but when I return to it, I see nothing has changed. There are a few embedded videos, that perhaps mess this up.

Features I’d like to see be added to the wave:
– Backwards compatibility with e-mail (if the goal is to take over Facebook, E-Mail, IM), then I feel as though I should be able to give out my googlewave e-mail address in place of another e-mail. If it remains a static wave because the sending party does not support googlewave, that certainly would be acceptable. I imagine that this would be very difficult to accomplish, but I could potentially see even more people jumping the boat to googlewave if this were implemented.
– Give an option to sort waves by “newest first”, “oldest first”, etc.
– Not easy to “unmute” a wave. Only way seems to be moving it into the inbox. Odd.

Improvements to be made:

– Speed. I think it would be hard pressed to find anyone who does not disagree with this. And this especially applies to embedded javascript applications, or videos, etc, though any long waves with just text can take forever to read and scroll properly.
– I’m not sure how they are going to handle public waves, but waves seemingly never end, meaning each wave has a possibility of having an infinite number of blips. I’m not sure if it could ever be fully supported. People can add bots, images, java applications, and have it bog down on the entire system. Until Google can figure out a way to control this, I think speed will always be an issue. Updated after I wrote this: Someone said that one of the waves reached its limit after 650 blips, and they were asked to start a new wave.
– The scroll bar. It’s an annoying drag scroll bar that does not always act as you would think. Sometimes I click, then drag, and nothing happens. Sometimes it does. I’d like for the bar to be bigger, easier to be selected, and actually function as one would expect a scroll bar to function.
– If I read a public wave, it does not make any sense for me to be automatically included into the wave. If I contribute to a wave, that would make more sense. If the purpose of being automatically added to the wave is to never lose track of it, then a user can just click “inbox” to send it to their inbox.

– Very useful collaboration tool. I like the ability to edit each other’s waves, and I see that HTML 5.0 and this technology could be a very powerful platform for document editing, and for corporations, if restricted.
– The speed of uploading pictures are pretty fast, and I like that the other users in your wave can see the thumbnails of the pictures you are uploading while you are uploading.
– Being able to minimize the various windows (Navigation, Contacts, Inbox) and focusing on just the wave.
– Using the keyboard control commands are useful, I will just have to memorize them all to make it more useful.
– I hate and like the real time typing. I type fairly fast, but it might be frustrating for those who type slow. Also, it’s hard to keep up with the conversation if you’re a slow typer. I’ll be happy when the “Draft” box can finally be selected.
– When public waves are functioning without too much lag, I see how they could be incredibly useful. You could take part on many subjects of your interest without ever leaving Google Wave, or start new waves if subjects of your interest have not been mentioned. Security however, may be compromised if people decide to add bots, or applications that may not be safe. But in the naive sense, it’s a great communication tool.

– The “online” green dot that was once again re-added to Wave to indicate whether or not someone was online. I’d like the option of turning it off. Just like in chat, or Facebook, I tend to have other things to do and would like to have more control over this. Right now, it doesn’t matter since all of my contacts don’t use Wave all that much, and there are only five of them, but as I invite friends/they start to appear that I think would use Wave, I’d like other options, such as “turn the green dot off”.
– When do the waves in my “Trash” go away?

I’ve just touched the very tip of Wave, and I haven’t tried many bots or all the buttons in Google Wave, but I will eventually learn all that Google Wave has to offer, and I will hopefully document it here as I learn more about Google Wave.

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