Attempting to reinvent email sounds a bit like an attempt to reinvent the wheel. Today’s email is a nearly 50-year old concept, but why fix something that isn’t broken? Isn’t today’s email good enough? Google thinks it is not and has come up with a concept that adds real-time information exchange, document editing and data feeds to what we now perceive to be a standard, but pretty much static tool of daily communication.
Google’s idea is called Wave and is the brainchild of the developers of Where 2 Tech, a small company that Google acquired in 2004 and eventually came up with the Google maps service. Wave uses today’s popular forms of communication, including email, chats, instant messages and social media feeds as foundation and aims to integrate them into one service that looks very similar to a traditional email service.
What is different is that the service will allow participants in a wave communication to edit documents in near-real time, Google promises. The company describes the concept as “concurrent rich-text editing” that can include richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web. A rewind button allows users to see the history of changes made to a document within a Wave communication. The idea behind Wave is that such a service fits the need of traditional emailing as well as quick and short messages, that can be used for simple communication or collaboration.
The service is not yet publicly available, but Google has posted some initial information about it as well as a few screenshots. Attendees at Google I/O conference in San Francisco were treated to a first-hand demonstration.
Wave is built as a HTML 5 application that runs on the Google Web Toolkit. The company said it “intends” to open source the code behind Wave and offer open APIs to encourage developer participation in an effort to expand the usability of Wave. “The Google Wave protocol is the underlying format for storing and the means of sharing waves, and includes the "live" concurrency control, which allows edits to be reflected instantly across users and services,” the company said. “The protocol is designed for open federation, such that anyone's Wave services can interoperate with each other and with the Google Wave service.”