Jesse and I decided to interview a few testers via Google Wave about their thoughts on the service.
Sam Davyson, neighbor across the pond with interests in computing and technology.
Aaron Kasten, an IT problem solver out of the Dallas-Fort Worth area.
Mack Collier, social media consultant and Alabama Crimson Tide fan.
Bear Goodell, social media and sports marketer – for hire.
Q1: What was your initial reaction to Google Wave when you first opened it?
Sam: When I first looked at the developer preview I couldn’t believe how sluggish everything about it was. It didn’t seem anything like as responsive as the demo video or as I would have expected for such a serious product. Since then bit by bit I think it has improved. It is very usable now – especially in Chrome. I was excited I guess – but when I first got here I didn’t know about the public waves and I sort of realised I had no one to wave at.
Aaron: Agreed the Developer Sand Box was slow, and nearly unusable, not just due to the sluggishness, but the fact that there was nobody else to test the product with. Now that the “Preview” is out it runs much better, and I have met a few others to actually start playing with the technology. You really get to see the power of a wave when communicating in real time. Editing eachothers posts..(is that the right word for a wave?) Highlighting, it is fun and useful. You can also add all the widgets. Lots of neat stuff, and I am sure it will grow. I too am using chrome, but have tried IE and FF, chrome is just the fastest kid on the block.
Bear: My initial reaction was, “don’t get overwhelmed.” After tinkering with it a bit, I still have a lot to learn, but I’m excited.
Mack: It looked like a souped up IM service.
Q2: Will the general user be satisfied or disappointed with the service?
Sam: If I had to guess I would say neither of them. They will probably err towards being disappointed but most of all they will be confused. My father still sometimes struggle to follow what is going on in Gmail conversation view and he’s much better than some “general users”. The fact that anyone can edit anything will take a while to get used to I think but not possibly this won’t be an issue at first as people just won’t be editing other people’s stuff. I think it is a good idea and already I feel that discussion on blogs, twitter, etc. seems slow compared to this but I’m not convinced yet that Wave will fully catch on.
Aaron: I think as is right now, general users would not really know what to do. It is confusing to get the hang of. I didn’t like seeing what others were typing before a message had been sent back when Yahoo instant messenger did it in the 90’s. I often start to type a message and then change what or how I want to say it. I would hate to see an argument in google wave. I know when I have an angry email I often read it over several times and more often than not decide not to send it. No take backs in google wave.
Bear: I think the average user will be intimidated at first. It’s going to take some patience to figure it out and, sadly, that’s not what Americans want.
Mack: Not sure yet, if they can quickly and easily grasp the functionality, I would think they’ll be satisfied. But so far it looks like the ‘average’ user would be fairly confused at first.
Q3: What kind of extensions and widgets would you like to see in the future?
Sam: I was planning on building a robot or two. One thing I want to see is a Latex robot which I might help to build (something to convert Latex into equations). This will make it possible to use waves for collaborative maths. But in general I think I want to see convergence of online activity towards waves. A central place managing all of your interactions. I imagine writing blog posts in Wave in future (via a wordpress robot) and maybe having comments on the posts come back in (via a disqus robot).
Aaron: Sam nailed it, convergence. I forsee wave developing into sort of a Tweetdeck for all your online services. I could as Sam said, post to my blog, read the comments, drag one to my twitter widget, to tweet it, and share the image on face book. What I really want to see is google really try to rally around wave, and bring all of it’s many services together. I am a user of Google Voice, Apps for business, chrome, android, picasa, maps.. I could go on. I find it very frustrating that I have 3 different sets of contacts, and now with wave a new email and set of contacts. All these services are provided by the same company yet there is no continuity between them. Wave presents a great opportunity for google to really unify it’s services. I want to be working on a google apps doc in a wave, make a call from my GV # to a colleague have him pull the wave up on his android phone, and make changes.
Mack: First, something to bring the functionality from Google’s other services in, like Reader and even Gmail. Maybe something that shows when someone I am following (or a contact) is active on twitter, or Facebook, etc.
Q4: How do you see Google Wave being beneficial for personal use and/or business use?
Mack: I could really see this being of benefit to companies as an internal collaboration tool. Seems like a good way to let employees quickly and easily build off each other’s ideas by sharing words, pictures and media.
Aaron: I think for content providers it will be a great tool. Any environment that can utilize the colabrative abilities of google wave. I still have a lot of playing to do, to see the full power of wave, I have yet to do much but start a wave with a friend and play with what is currently available.