SiliconFilter

The Final Days for Google Wave Have Arrived: Read-Only Now, To Be Turned Off in April

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Google Wave once looked like it could become Google's next big thing, but in the end, the service was too complicated and never developed enough of an active following. Just a few weeks after coming out of beta in August 2010, Google announced that it would stop developing Wave. Since then, though, Wave was still available for new users and there was still some limited activity on the service. Starting today, however, Wave is moving one step close to its grave as waves are now read-only, just as Google announced back in November 2011.

Wave screen 360On April 30, 2012, Google will turn the service off completely. Wave will live on as the Wave Protocol (now under control of the Apache Foundation) and on a number of experimental services.

Maybe Wave' most lasting legacy (besides the infamous 80-minute demo at Google I/O 2009) is that it, at least according to Google's own story, taught the company quite a few lessons it incorporated into its far more successful Google+.

When it was first unveiled, Google called it an "unbelievable product." Sadly, users never quite warmed up to the service and the core team that was behind it is actually now scattered among other Silicon Valley companies, including Facebook.



11:04 am


Google Docs Presentations Get Real-Time Collaboration, Transitions and Animations

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Just about a year and a half ago, most of Google’s productivity apps in the Google Docs suite received major overhauls that brought real-time collaboration and a number of other new features to Google’s online document, spreadsheet and drawing tools. One tools that was left out of that refresh at the time was Google’s online PowerPoint rival Google Docs presentations. Today, Google is changing this by bringing real-time collaboration, animations, rich tables and about 50 more new features to the presentations application.

While the apps feature set obviously can’t quite compete with Microsoft’s PowerPoint or Apple’s Keynote, making easy collaboration the focal point of the product gives it a competitive edge. As Google notes, “the best presentations are made together, collaborating with others to build a compelling story that captivates your audience.” Now, with Google Wave-like character-by-character real-time collaboration, that should get a bit easier for Google Docs users.

It’s worth noting that Microsoft, with its Office Web Apps is also now making online collaboration a focal point of its web initiatives and that the online PowerPoint app does offer a number of features (and great document fidelity) than Google.

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Here are some of the other new features that Google highlights: [list]

  • Transitions: to move between slides with simple fades or spicier 3D effects
  • Animations: to add emphasis or to make your slides more playful
  • New themes: to create beautiful presentations with distinct visual styles
  • Drawings: to build new designs, layouts, and flowcharts within a presentation
  • Rich tables with merged cells and more options for adding style to your data

[/list]

Getting Started

Google notes that these new features were designed for modern browsers. Anything newer than Firefox 4, Safari 4 and Internet Explorer, as well as Google’s own Chrome browser should work fine, though.

To get started, head to the “Document settings” from your document list and check the box next to “Create new presentations using the latest version of the presentation editor.”

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3:52 pm


A Day With Google+: They Finally Got it Right

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Yesterday was a big day for Google. The company launched a wave of new and updated products, but the focus was clearly on the (unexpected) launch of Google+. Until now, Google forays into social networking were generally lackluster (except for in Brazil, where Orkut continues to be popular). After the failure of Buzz, Google+ is the company’s most ambitious social networking play yet. After spending a day with the product, it’s clear that Google’s teams learned from the mistakes they made with Buzz and finally put together a social networking service that can compete.

Google put a massive amount of effort behind this tool, but many of its parts still remain unconnected and scattered across Google’s various properties (the +1 buttons, for example, aren’t connected to your stream yet). Google+, however, gives us a first glimpse at what a lot of these parts could look like once they become integrated into one cohesive unit. What exactly this final product will look like still remains to be seen, but the basic building blocks are now in place. (more…)



5:43 pm


3 Biggest Disappointments in Tech of 2010

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Lots of great stuff happened in the tech world in 2010, but for every success like the iPad, Instagr.am and Roku, there was also a major disappointment along the way. The bigger the hype, the greater the disappointment, of course, so this list features the top three products and events in 2010 that, in my view, were the biggest letdowns.

Google Closes Wave

It’s no secret that Wave never caught on with the masses, even though it was among the most hyped products of 2009 and 2010. The fact that the team needed 1 hour and 20 minutes just to explain the concept at the introduction in early 2009 should have made a few alarm bells ring.

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Most people never understood why they should use Wave and what they could do with it. While I always had great hopes for it (and even used it for live blogging at one point), in the end I had to concede that it was just too complicated and different for most people. Instead of giving the Wave team a chance to succeed and hone its product, though, Google decided to shut it down just a few months after opening it up for general use. Google always insisted that the Wave protocol and ecosystem was what it was really interested in, so maybe we’ll see some action on that front in the future.

Wave’s lead developer Lars Rasmussen is now at Facebook and the rest of the team is working on other projects. Some remnants of Wave are now available in Google Shared Spaces, but it’s unlikely that we’ll ever see a return of Wave as a fully featured communications platform. Shame.

Google Buzz Doesn’t Catch On

Google launched Buzz, its latest and greatest social initiative in early February and immediately got lots of bad press thanks to major privacy issues that Google’s should have noticed long before it launched it. While Buzz looked like it could recapture some of FriendFeed‘s greatness (after all, it looks and works almost exactly like FriendFeed did before Facebook bought it and its developers moved on to bigger and better things), it’s mostly a wasteland today. Even though Google pushed it into millions of Gmail inboxes, it’s hard to find any real interactions on Buzz today. Instead of going to Buzz, most people just share their links and thoughts on Facebook and Twitter.

Sadly, Google never quite figured out how to move Buzz to the next level. While I don’t think the company will abandon it the way it dropped Wave like a hot potato, it remains to be seen for how long Buzz will remain in Gmail. Maybe Google’s next social initiative can breathe new life into Buzz, but I highly doubt it at this point.

Apple’s Ping Fizzles

Apple isn’t known for getting “social” right, but just like Google pushed Buzz into millions of inboxes, Apple baked Ping right into iTunes, the world’s most popular (though not always loved) music management software. Still, after botching the launch by not asking Facebook if it was okay to use its API to connect millions of iTunes users and promptly having to shut that system down, Ping never quite recovered. Without the Facebook integration, users had to hunt their friends down by their email addresses and few people ever bothered to do so.

Not being able to share songs that were already in your library didn’t make it any more useful. For something that bills itself as a “social network for music,” Ping just isn’t social enough.

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In its latest version, Ping now makes it easier to share songs from your existing library and you can now import your Twitter friends, share playlists and tweet your “likes” out to the world. Still, even with these new features, NPR rightly called Ping one of the “worst ideas of 2010” and I couldn’t agree more.

When was the last time you even looked at Ping?

What’s On Your List?

So that’s my list for 2010? What’s on your list? What were the apps and services that disappointed you the most? Flipboard, which looks cool but isn’t that useful? The iPad, because it’s just a giant iPhone? Windows Phone? Android tablets?

Let us know in the comments?



3:47 pm


Time to Wave Goodbye: Google Ceases Development of Google Wave

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Google just announced that it has stopped development of its real-time collaboration and communication platform Google Wave. Wave, according to Google’s Urs Holzle, “has not seen the user adoption [Google] would have liked.” The parts of the code that Google already offered as open source code will remain available, but Wave as a standalone product will cease to exist by the end of the year when Google plans to shut the Wave website down.

So Long, and Thanks for all The Real-Time Goodness

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It’s a shame to see Google Wave go. I had high hopes for it when it was first announced (I was actually one of the first journalists to get my hands on it). Clearly, though, it failed to gain enough users to make continued development worthwhile for Google. What is odd, though, is to see how quickly Google killed Wave. After a long beta period, the company only officially launched Wave a little more than two months ago. Ironically, the last post on the Google Wave blog from just about a week ago is called: “STOP! Waving time…

For a lot of users, seeing others type in real time just wasn’t a good enough reason to abandon email or more traditional collaboration tools. The promised “draft” feature – which turned off the real-time typing mode – never materialized. Over the next few days, we will surely see a lot of analysis about what exactly went wrong. If anything, though, I have to give Google credit for giving Wave a shot.

It’ll be interesting to see what the Australia-based team behind Wave (which also developed the earliest versions of Google Maps) will do next.

The Announcement

Here is the central part of Google’s announcement:

We were equally jazzed about Google Wave internally, even though we weren’t quite sure how users would respond to this radically different kind of communication. The use cases we’ve seen show the power of this technology: sharing images and other media in real time; improving spell-checking by understanding not just an individual word, but also the context of each word; and enabling third-party developers to build new tools like consumer gadgets for travel, or robots to check code.

But despite these wins, and numerous loyal fans, Wave has not seen the user adoption we would have liked. We don’t plan to continue developing Wave as a standalone product, but we will maintain the site at least through the end of the year and extend the technology for use in other Google projects. The central parts of the code, as well as the protocols that have driven many of Wave’s innovations, like drag-and-drop and character-by-character live typing, are already available as open source, so customers and partners can continue the innovation we began. In addition, we will work on tools so that users can easily “liberate” their content from Wave.



2:09 pm