Bye Bye Google Wave!

Yesterday Google sent an email to its subscribers reminding them that Google Wave was to be switched off on April 30, 2012. For those not in the know, Google Wave was a real-time communications platform that allowed groups of people to have conversations, drag and drop to distribute files, edit information shared by others in the group (or Wave) and it could even let you see replies being typed, live, character by character. Unlike other communications platforms, new individuals invited to the Wave could review previous messages, files and information using the playback tool so they could see how and what was added, and when, for ease of following the conversation. It could even auto-translate as you typed, for multi-national communication made easy.

Developed back in 2009 and launched in 2010, Google Wave unfortunately failed to hit the user numbers it required to sustain development and Google announced they would no longer be devoting time to it as a separate product. In an effort to help other’s further the technology parts of the code were made available as open source, with the service remaining accessible until January 31, 2012 when it became read only. Google are now requesting that anyone with Waves still hosted on Google Wave should export them before the service is switched off. But what if you still want to continue using the technology?

Alternatives to Google Wave have been created through a number of open source projects such as Apache Wave where their Wave program is being reviewed and developed as they work on increasing functionality and ensuring it works across multiple platforms and operating systems. Walkaround, based on the Apache Wave program code, can import Waves from Google, allowing you to continue working with your information even after Google Wave shuts down. It doesn’t have full functionality yet, but progress is being made and offers some flexibility to other applications as well. It should be noted that Walkaround’s import feature is still in the experimental stages.

Another method of sharing files while engaging in conversation with multiple people across the world is through Skype, who offer a free download allowing you to use your computer as a phone or messaging program, sending files and engaging in real time communication, by video if you wish it.

Ultimately, Google Wave has been shut down because users failed to find practical uses for it in large numbers. Google created Wave as an alternative and more streamed option than using email, reducing break-off communications when someone forgets to hit reply all, bringing new people entering the conversation at a later date up to speed quickly and easily, and allowing you to do so in real time. With many Google users being unaware of Google Wave until the announcement of its closure, Google failed to get the general public excited in this new way of communicating, despite the press enthusiasm at its launch. For those in mourning at its loss, perhaps the new alternatives mentioned above will be of use. For the rest, we suggest sticking with your email for now.

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