The hype surrounding Google Wave has been epic: not since the Segue have we seen more publicity and hyperbole over something new. Wave is supposed to revolutionize the way we communicate on the web by merging a number of asynchronous and synchronous applications into one convenient tool. Wave was supposed to combine blogging, email, wikis, Youtube, and Flickr, allowing multiple users to share and edit all kinds of documents with ease.
Well, I finally got my long-anticipated Wave invitation this week (thanks Sean), and like many other recent invitees, I am thoroughly disappointed with the product. I realize that Wave is in a sort of pre-beta stage–officially, Google is calling it a preview application, but even so, it is a deeply flawed application. I’m jumping on the anti-wave band wagon here, but let me point out a few of its serious issues:
- Contacts and Invitations. When you sign up for Google Wave, you are given a new Google Wave user name, typically your gmail address plus @googlewave.com. Then, you are allowed to invite 20 others to Google Wave. If they join, they get their own Google Wave user name, and you can, finally, include them in a Wave. Hopefully, the full version will scrap the Wave id altogether, opting instead for the simple gmail address (or even Google account) of other Google applications such as Reader.
- Drag and drop. I pictured myself dragging and dropping video clips, audio files, and images into the wave interface. Not so. In the case of video, I have to insert the URL as a link. Then, eventually, Google recognizes the link as a video and suggests that I embed it. Too many steps here.
- Applications. Again, Wave is in a preview stage, but you ought to be able to pick from a range of applications to drop into your wave. I tried dropping a translator application into one of my waves. After I figured out where to find it, it did work successfully, translating my brief message into Dutch. But it was a lot of work.
- Interface . Simply put, it doesn’t work very well. First, the design is counter-intuitive, with an awkward three-panel structure. Google is usually known for its clean and simple designs, so this is as bit of a surprise. Moreover, it just doesn’t seem to work well. I click trash, and it doesn’t send the selected wave to the trash. Even the new-fangled scroll button doesn’t function well.
- Search. That Google, the king of search, should make Wave users insert all kinds of boolean terms to find other interesting waves seems ridiculous. Do I really need to type with:public to find a public wave? There should be a drop-down menu or some radio buttons at the very least.
- Speed. Google Wave is s-l-o-w. How many servers does Google have dedicated to this application? Three?
I do love Google and shamelessly shill their other stuff–notably, Book Search and Reader. But Wave is really, really, inferior to their other efforts.