Google has given developers a preview of a communications technology called Google Wave that promises to replace e-mail.
"A 'wave' is equal parts conversation and document, where people can communicate and work together with richly formatted text, photos, videos, maps, and more," said Lars Rasmussen, software engineering manager at Google.
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Google unveiled its online communications environment at its IO 2009 conference in San Francisco.
Google Wave is designed to take advantage of all the different forms of digital communication and advances in computers and networks since e-mail and instant messaging were introduced, Rasmussen said in a blog posting.
The prototype, unveiled yesterday, is aimed at eliminating divisions between different types of communication and using the latest computing power to bring them all together in a single environment.
"Users create a wave and add people to it. Everyone on your wave can use richly formatted text, photos, gadgets, and even feeds from other sources on the web," said Rasmussen.
Google has posted examples of how services like Twitter can be automatically included in waves.
Rasmussen described it as "concurrent rich-text editing", where users see nearly instantly what collaborators are typing in your wave as well as being able to use "playback" to rewind the wave to see how it evolved.
Google has invited developers to take part in the open source project in the coming months, but gave no specific date for a public launch of the service.
"Google Wave is very open and extensible, and we are inviting developers to add all kinds of cool stuff before our public launch," said Rasmussen.