This is not the Wave you thought you knew
Okay, there have been some very interesting changes over the past few months that has brought Googles Wave service out of the geeky wilderness and into something that is now truly usable by regular people.
Feature #1: Notifications
One of the biggest problems people had with the original iteration of Google Wave was the fact that they had no way of knowing when someone had either responded to them in an existing wave, or in fact had added them to a wave without keeping a browser open on the Wave service all the time. There are two main possible solutions to this
- Build a Google Wave client into existing mail clients
- Setup a notification system using email
The Google Wave team decided to go with the latter. What happens now is that once you have setup your notifications email address as described here, every time a change is made to a wave you are participating in, you are added to a wave and so on, you will receive an email detailing which wave has been changed, the link to the wave and part of the change made.
Feature #2: Groups
Contacts within Google Wave are still a bit basic. You can't create your own groupings of contacts and you can't actually remove a contact that you've added. However recently Google added a new participant type - Google Groups.
Depending on how your Google Group is setup access wise, Google Wave will detect which groups you are a member of and list them in your contacts. This will mean that if you create a wave and add the group, this will then pop up in the Inbox of all other members of the group who utilise Google Wave. While there doesn't seem to be any communication between the Google Group and the Google Wave implementation of the group, I can see in the future an attempt to bring the two together.
For more on Google Groups and Google Wave, have a look here
Feature #3: Removing Participants and Robots
When Google Wave was released and the developers start hacking on it, there very quickly came a realisation that it was lacking a very important feature. The ability to remove really annoying and in some cases, really malicious Robots. In this removal free landscape, bots like the Swedish Chef bot, the Pirate bot and other massive pains in the buttocks ran rampant, turning coherent well thought out waves into wastelands consisting of "bork bork" and other such witty catch-phrases.
The initial answer to the problem was the development of another robot. This one had the power to remove robots at the request of participants. However this was clunky and less than efficient, so a couple of months ago, the ability was added for participants to directly remove robots from waves without the need for an intermediary.
Now that ability has been extended to removing participants. So if you experience trouble with trolls and spammers, you can give them the flick :)
Feature #4: Wave Templates
Some people have had trouble working out exactly what they can do with wave. It's all very free form and all that.
Well the guys and gals at Google Wave have thought about that as well. Now when you login to Google Wave you won't be presented with the old "New Wave" link on the right. Instead they've create a number of templates, ranging from the tradition blank wave through to meeting minutes, task management and more.
All in all, Google Wave has come along way since those first heady days after GoogleIO 2009. If you haven't logged into Wave for a while, give it another go, I think you'll be surprised.