Google Wave, a new online tool that combines email, document-sharing and photos in one program, has been released for beta testing for 100,000 developers. The Wave grew out of a challenge within Google to reinvent email by asking themselves the question: "What would email look like if we set out to invent it today?" Turns out it would look something like this:




googlewave.png

I few months ago I spent all morning trying to figure out what the heck that was. The fruits of my labor are here, but if you'd prefer the stripped-down version, here's how it could change the way you work, in a nutshell:

Emailing: It becomes more like chatting. There are no "Create New Message" tabs. You simply click the email and begin typing inside the message. Your chats and emails with somebody appear in a single conversation stream that you can rewind to review your history of conversations in one frame.

Doc-sharing:
Edits to shared documents are more instantaneous. You can "rewind" edits to watch how the document evolved to recapture past ideas that got prematurely deleted. I could upload my blog to the Wave, make it a public document, and commenters could add their comments inside the blog to sentences they find objectionable. In other words, my blog becomes the comment section.

Online invitations:
God, I hate Evites so much. The pop-up windows, the weird "opening" of envelopes, it all stinks. If we're all very fortunate, something like this will kill Evite:

evite.png
The invitation is a map. Perfect.

Early reviews indicate that the Wave suffers from numerous glitches and remains a sky-high ambition without ground-level response time. But as the product moves through Beta, I expect the reality will continue to inch toward an ideal that represents an incredible new way to share information with friends in real time.

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