Google Wave has switched from an invitation-only offering to one open to all interested users, the popular service announced Wednesday.
Google also announced a batch of special features and tweaks to Google Wave, which allows real-time communication online. Google introduced the project in May 2009 and put out a limited preview release in November. Some educational institutions have used the service as a way to do collaborative work more efficiently.
Gregory D’Alesandre, product manager at Google, said one of the biggest changes users are likely to notice is more user-friendliness, so that new users can adapt quickly to the service. Google Wave plans more changes meant to cater to new users in coming months, although Mr. D’Alesandre declined to give specifics.
Google Apps domain administrators at universities and businesses will now be able to enable Google Wave for all their users. Other, smaller changes can be seen in a presentation from the Google I/O Conference taking place through Thursday.
Mr. D’Alesandre has worked with a number of universities using Wave for classroom projects and research since the service began.
He cited his work with an Irish-studies class at the University of Notre Dame, which collaborated with a university in Ireland using Google Wave. During one debate the classes worked together on, students supplemented their arguments by uploading videos and documents. Mr. D’Alesandre hopes that more educational institutions will be able to use Google Wave now that it is widely available.
“The reason we think this is really interesting and useful and important for education is because these small groups naturally occur in the educational context,” he said.