I attended the Google Wave GTUG (Google Technology User Group) meet at the Park Plaza in London this evening for TNW. High demand for the event resulted in a switch of venue from the original Belgrave House offices and a very large takeaway pizza order funded by Google.customLogo Google Wave team talk shop and future at GTUG London

On the same day that Google launched their new social search facility, Lars Rasmussen and Stephanie Hannon, the individuals behind the Google Wave project, talked us through the latest developments and future plans for the service. They took the 200 strong audience through the latest APIs that showed a glimpse of what we can expect from Wave in the future.

Hannon started the presentation on a lighter note by showing the clever Pulp Fiction styled Google Wave introduction video as well as guaranteeing the attendees Google Wave preview invites to much appreciation.

Demand for Rasmussen and Hannon’s creation was made evident, with 2 million registering their interest after the IO Developers meeting back in May, which the video of, up to now, has received 5 million views on YouTube. As we know 100,000 lucky wavers were invited into the preview on the 30th September, opening the product to a wider audience. So what’s happened since then, do people really get it, what does the future hold and why does using it feel like visiting your 95 year old gran?

Their recognition of the responsiveness was clear, they know it’s slow, they don’t like it either and it’s their number one priority.  The servers have simply been overloaded since launch.

Many users complain of the inability to construct chronological conversations in Wave, as once your half way through typing a sentence, a user is already reacting due to the character by character real time environment. Rasmussen announced plans were in place to change this including the screen adjusting to the oldest active blip, to maintain a controlled flow to a conversation.

To cut a potentially exhausting blog post short, a summary of snippets from their presentation include:

  • Extension gallery to be fully up and running in months with a wider collection and sharing functionality.
  • An extension store is planned where developers would be able to display and charge for apps.
  • ‘Hooks’ that’ll invoke actions such as opening a new wave, menu, removing bots or launching a shortcut.
  • At current, all waves are equal in the order they are displayed in your inbox, but in the future, they might be prioritised by certain groups, contacts and keywords to avoid a overflowing and indigestible inbox.
  • Merging Waves, another feature on the road map.
  • Google Wave will be able to be deployed within networks and intranets for organisations and companies to use internally.
  • Although it has been requested by a substantial amount of preview users, there are no plans to intergrate Gmail or any mail with Google Wave. The APIs though, will provide developers with the ability to do it in the future…
  • They are not developing or have plans to, a native iPhone or Android app and are concentrating on the optimised mobile versions.
  • Auto spell checker is close, but according to Rasmussen, ‘the balance of quality’ is not quite there yet and there’s still a tendancy to have to back track too often.

I realise you’re probably not bowled over by the above, but this wasn’t a public announcement, but information for the developers and this is key to the current status of the project.  It’s not ready for public consumption.

It’s the reason why a lot of users just don’t get it in my opinion and I don’t blame them.  Lars and Stephanie have a lorry full of ideas to improve the experience but are focusing solely on improving performance and the bugs that have caused notable attention since it’s preview launch.