Google Wave is now available for everyone!

After six months of invites and begging, Google Wave is now freely open for anyone to use.  If you have a Google Account, simply head over to wave.google.com and sign-up.  If you’re an apps user, your organization can quickly enable Wave for your entire group.

Removing this barrier is huge.  Now anyone can join your Wave, and it’s no longer a case of “well, you need an invite to see it…”.

Today is also bringing us a few of the first great “Live Waves”.  With Google I/O going on today, a few sites are live-blogging by using an embedded Google Wave.  My favorite is the one on Smarterware, but there are others out there too.

If you have Wave and want to get your friends on there with you, send them over and get them in!

Embed a Wave on a site; anyone can now view it

You’ve had the ability to embed waves on websites before, but there was one major problem; the only people that could view it were other Wave users.  That all changes today, as embedded waves are now visible to everyone!

This is a big step forward, and certainly makes Wave a killer liveblogging tool.  The one catch is that this doesn’t work in Internet Explorer (even with the Google Chrome Frame), but they’ll be fixing that soon.  If you want to try it yourself, just use this simple tool.

Want to see it in action?  Just scroll down.  I’ve embedded a wave in this post to try it out.  Can you see it?

google.load(“wave”, “1”);
google.setOnLoadCallback(initialize);
function initialize() {
var waveframe = document.getElementById(“waveframe”);
var embedOptions = {
target: waveframe,
header: true,
toolbar: true,
footer: true
};
var wavePanel = new google.wave.WavePanel(embedOptions);
wavePanel.loadWave(“googlewave.com!w+Lis328SqA”);
}

You can finally remove participants from a Wave

Google is slowly but steadily adding all of the basic features into Wave.  Recently they added email notifications, and not long before that they added access permissions.  Now they’ve knocked out another one of those “must have” features; being able to remove someone from a wave.

You can read more about it on the Google Wave Help site, but it’s pretty simple:

To remove a participant, click his or her picture at the top of the wave, and then click Remove. If the participant you remove has previously opened the wave, a read-only copy of the wave, with a large red “X” at the top, will remain in his or her account, but it will only contain content up to the point of removal. He or she will not have access to any content added after you that point, and they’ll no longer be able to contribute to or edit the wave.

If you remove someone from a wave before they open it, the entire wave will simply disappear from their account. It isn’t possible to see whether or not any user has already opened a wave.

Google Wave adds a few quick start templates

One of the problems with Google Wave is getting started.  You open up a new Wave, and then what?  Google is hoping to address that problem with their brand new quick start templates.

When you start a new wave, you’re now presented with six options:

  • A standard blank wave
  • Discussion
  • Task tracking
  • Meeting
  • Document
  • Brainstorm

All of these are essentially standard waves at their core, but they pre-populate it with fields and widgets that would be useful for that task.  It’s not a huge step forward, but will certainly help new users when they try to make those first few steps.

Email notifications are finally here

Many people that use Wave only use it from time to time, on an “as needed” basis.  This is fine, but causes people to miss new items when they arrive.  There are a few browser extensions and other workarounds, but now Google has released official email notifications!

The way they work is quite simple.  You can choose to have notifications send to you either:

  • Immediately
  • Hourly
  • Daily
  • Never

The default, as you would expect, is “never”.  However, if you don’t have another system in place it’d probably be wise to turn them on.  Even better, you should encourage your friends to turn it on so they don’t miss something that comes from you.

There are a few minor issues with it still, but it seems to be a very nice implementation.  Useful and customizable, yet simple and uncluttered.

What’s the next feature you’d like to see them add?

Lots of insight on upcoming features for Google Wave

A Google Wave developer has spoken about a lot of non-confidential upcoming features for Google Wave.  You can read them all at Reddit, but here are some highlights:

  • Better “new Wave notifications” are coming soon. I use the slick extension for Google Chrome, but other options will be coming soon.  “Very soon”, in fact.
  • Tighter connections between Wave and email aren’t likely coming soon.
  • People don’t like the weird scrollbars, but we’re told that they have a “really really really really good reason to keep them”.  Not sure why, though.
  • Google Wave and Google Buzz share little (if any) code.
  • Wave doesn’t work well with Opera, but the Opera development team is apparently working on it.

There are plenty of other unanswered questions in there, so hopefully those can be taken care of soon.

What are the biggest questions/concerns that YOU have about Google Wave?

Google Wave finally adds access permissions

Slowly but surely, Google Wave is building out the expected features that people want.  They’re still missing some huge ones (publish to a site, print, rearrange blips, etc), but they’re getting there.

The latest two they’ve added are User Access Permissions and Restore from Playback.

User Access Permissions

This allows you to add people to a Wave with read-only access.  One neat thing you can do is allow public read-only access to the Wave to show it off to a wide variety of people without worrying about them messing it up.

You can make groups or individuals read-only.  Coming soon will be “reply only” access which allows users to reply to blips but not edit the blips that they didn’t create.

Restore from Playback

If a Wave gets messed up, anyone with full access to the Wave can restore it to a previous point.  This “restore” actually becomes a new instance at the end of the playback history, so others could essentially un-restore it if necessary.

What do you think is the biggest issue that needs to be addressed next?

Google Wave adds undo/redo

It’s a very minor thing, but in a text-based environment it’s very important.  Starting today, you can now use “undo” and “redo” commands within a wave.

They use the standard keys.:

To undo something, just press CTRL+Z ( or CMD+Z on Mac).

To redo it, use CTRL+Y or CMD+Y.  That’s it!

Again, nothing earth-shaking about this, but it simply makes it a little easier to use and gets it a bit closer to being ready for a wider release.

Groups finally arrive in Wave — sort of

group-wavesFor a while now, people have been asking for a way to use Groups with Google Wave.  It’d be nice to be able to just add an entire team to a Wave, rather that adding them one at a time.  Google has just added the first piece of this feature.  It’s clunky, but it’s a start.

Starting now, you can add a Google Group to a wave.  Once added, you can set permissions for the group and interact with them in Wave.  You can add a Group as a “contact” in Wave, making it easy to add them to waves that you create.

A step-by-step guide is posted in the official Wave blog, so check it out and give it a try!

Download the Complete Guide to Google Wave

ThecompleteguidetogooglewaveGina Trapani and Adam Pash of Lifehacker have put together a book titled “The Complete Guide to Google Wave“.  It’s a 102-page, DRM-free ebook that you can get right now for only $6.

If you don’t feel like shelling out $6 for an ebook, you can read the entire book right on their site!  It covers every aspect of Wave, broken into logical chapters: getting started, contacts, shortcuts, gadgets, robots, it’s all there.

It seems like a solid book.  If you you’ve read it, leave a note in the comments here and let us know what you think of it.