Google Wave: A User End Experience.

Google have been growing with greater speed by the day, every day, lately.  Google Chrome, the Android OS, the Nexus-One, Google Wave and Google Buzz – not to mention the YouTube that we all know and love, Google Mail, Google Reader and the iGoogle web apps.  If you’re that way inclined, and if you want to, you can basically have Google completely and utterly dominate your very soul by using all of the many Google Applications to run your life.

Personally, I don’t see why anyone would want to.  I’ve never seen any appeal to Google Mail over Hotmail (or Windows Live, as it has since become) and I can’t really be bothered with Google Reader.  Android and the Nexus-One are great and all, but the iPhone is the popular kid with all the friends already, so it’s an uphill race for the competition despite that competition being arguably superior.  Google Chrome kicks arse and Google Buzz is getting more flack than Apple’s WAR ON PORNOGRAPHY right now, so in this point alone the disparity is interesting.

Google seem to be very good at inventing these fantastic base concepts but then failing at the execution.  I daresay, the search engine aside, their most successful application isn’t even theirs natively – YouTube was the competition to their Google Video so they bought it to eliminate that competition.  That in and of itself encapsulates the point I’m trying to make here: Google Video was clearly a good idea, but the execution was a spectacular failure.

Google Buzz is the current foray into failure to execute, with a clear lack of beta-testing leading to a complete internet-media shitstorm thanks to weak privacy protocols and implementation.  It’s a failure that I am beginning to wonder will ever be absolved.  Google Wave, the most prior effort, was a very intuitive base concept with a lot of promise and a lot of hype behind it that launched from the starting bench only to faceplant into the turf.

I’ll let Google explain just what Google Wave is about.

It’s a very nifty little idea, and I don’t think anyone would want to dispute that.  But it’s not working very well.  That is to say: it’s doing everything that it promised that it would do, but it’s not doing it very well.  We’ve been using Google Wave here at Unspeakable Evil to plan everything. We use it to map out our podcast every fortnight and we use it to schedule who uploads what and when to the YouTube channel.  We use it to dump every idea that we have and we use it to decide which Disney Movies we want to watch and which we do not.  We use it for absolutely anything and everything that can possibly come back to this blog.  We took the very business-sided approach to using the Wave and completely ignored any social uses it may have offered us.

This, I think, is part of the problem.  Web conferencing works better with voice and video than in text, especially in real time, so people would probably flock to Skype or similar apps.  Or, you know, conference in person.  There’s no real grabbing point to real time email after the initial impression dies away.  Our majority use of the Wave is as any email service, we send a message and we respond to each other.  The positive point to this, of course, is that the response are in the form of open dialogue and free-editing to any other response in any given Wave.  It’s a very nifty working environment, we won’t deny that.

But this is almost the only way that it works.  If you actually want to confer in real time using the Wave, you’re pretty much boned.  As it stands, Google Wave is a very buggy app.  There is nothing more frustrating than being booted from a Wave for some inane and inexplicable reason, such as the app crashing just as your try to paste a piece of text no bigger than a tweet.  It feels like a beta, probably because it still is, but it also feels stagnant.  Using the app gives the very distinct impression that not much is going to change.  The recent introduction of Google Buzz really adds credence to the idea.

Google Buzz caters to the ignored demographic of Google Wave: the social.  I haven’t used Buzz, so I can’t say much more than that.  But based on face value, I feel that Google have abandoned the Wave to try and implement an app in the vein of Twitter and Facebook – to a very fitting negative reception, as far as I’m concerned.  Safeer was the one who said it when Buzz first surfaced: what’s the point when they haven’t even fixed the Wave yet?

Google Wave is cluttered.  Google Wave if buggy.  Google Wave is frustrating.  It crashes even when I’m adding to a Wave while I’m the only one viewing it.  It makes no sense as to why or how, and it sure as Hell makes no effort to try and tell me as to either.  For everything intuitive about the app, there’s a handful of missing things – like a desktop app, or an email notice for when a given Wave is updated and etc. etc.

Unfortunately, it is a very nifty app that is almost invaluable to the structure and work ethic of Unspeakable Evil at this exact moment in time.  I think that encompasses the point I want to make: we are users scorned.  We are using an app that sucks when we should be using a fantastic app that makes what we do easier.  It’s a shame that a company that, honestly, I love to bits and wouldn’t mind if they took over the world, have left their Google Wave app so frightfully incomplete.


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