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A team of Google engineers from Australia has unveiled a prototype replacement for standard email that abandons the reliance on the chronological sorting and stacking of messages which has been the hallmark of one of the internet’s first and still most popular applications.

Christened Google Wave, the new feature was given its first public viewing in San Francisco earlier this morning Australian time at Google’s annual developers’ conference.

“I think you will see a form of interaction that you would not have previously imagined,” Google co-found Sergey Brin told a post-launch press conference.

Wave – which began life as a project codenamed Walkabout – is a combination of email and instant messaging and document-, maps- image- and video-sharing all housed under one roof.

Much like a conference call, it also allows for conversations between more than two people to happen simultaneous.

And because it all happens inside a web browser, there is no special software to download or plug-in – which means it can be used from any computer or internet-enabled mobile phone.

“Our communication space is very fragmented today. We have a million different tools for different things with lots of different kinds of overlaps,” said Lars Rassmussen, a senior software engineer with Google Australia

“The most natural way to try and solve that problem is to take all those different tools and try to make them smaller and fit into a single package and maybe integrate them across the boundaries.”

Wave is being released so that the developers – independent software creators – can help iron out the remaining bugs and cook-up a swag of new uses for the service and the platform upon which it is based ahead of a public release later this year.

But Wave is more than just another of Google’s ubiquitous free web services. It’s also a protocol – meaning that it is going after email’s mantle as the predominant internet communications tool.

And despite the recent growth of web-based email services like Hotmail and Gmail, most of the world’s email runs through Microsoft’s Outlook client.

And to encourage organisations to catch the Wave, Google is offering it up as an open source protocol, meaning that anyone – even a competitor – can box it up and host it on their servers.

Wave is the creation of Danish brothers Lars and Jens Rasmussen, who together with Australian Noel Gordon and Stephen Ma – founded and later sold what became known as Google Maps to Google for an undisclosed sum in 2005.

Lars has worked for Google and lived in Australia since the sale and enticed Jens to leave Google’s headquarters near join him in 2007.

The pair and the Wave team – who have been given the full backing of Google co-founders Sergey Brin and Larry Page – have been working on the project out of Google’s offices in Sydney.

Stephen Hutcheon is attending the San Francisco conference as a guest of Google.

Source: www.watoday.com.au

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