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5/19/2010
04:45 PM
Eric Ogren
Eric Ogren
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Google Refreshes Calendar, Docs, Wave

Today at the Google I/O developer conference, Google unfurled a number of new initiatives and tweaks to existing products. Some of the existing products that saw updates include Calendar, Documents, and Wave.

Today at the Google I/O developer conference, Google unfurled a number of new initiatives and tweaks to existing products. Some of the existing products that saw updates include Calendar, Documents, and Wave.Calendar

Google slightly tweaked the look and feel of its online Calendar program. To be honest, I have a hard time seeing the difference, but Google says it looks different. According to Google, it altered the color palette a bit, and also changed the fonts of the text. The changes are minute. I'd venture that most users won't even notice. Thanks, Google?

Documents

Google made a number of changes to Google Docs. It has improved comments. Users can now scroll within comments. This helps make reading through large comments much easier.

It also improved the dictionary. Now users can define any word they've selected on the composition screen by using the Dictionary tool.

Last, it added a wide range of special characters to the tools, and users can toggle the ruler between inches and centimeters. There are also new themes available within Google Forms.

Wave

It looks like Google has taken a lot of the criticism of Wave to heart. It made some serious changes in the hopes that more people might actually use it. The main features of Wave now include:

Discussion in context with your content - When you have a question or suggestion about something you see in a wave, you can have a conversation right in the wave with other participants. When you reach consensus, you can clean up your wave by finalizing the content and removing the completed discussion.

Logical information structure - You can respond anywhere within a wave, not just at the very end, so you end up with an organized record that follows the flow of the conversation.

Revision playback - Wave preserves a timeline of how a wave evolved, so when someone adds you to an existing wave, you can play back the history to see how it evolved to its current state. Playback lets you see content in its logical and chronological context.

Extensions - Extensions bring rich, dynamic functionality into waves. Google provides a number of useful extensions (like voting gadgets and maps) but there's an ever-growing library of extensions created by third-party developers. Organizations can even create extensions tailored to their own needs.

I have yet to take these for a test spin (mostly because everyone I know hates Wave), but I hope to convince a few people to test them out with me soon. Google still thinks that Wave is the perfect collaboration tool. I agree that it could be the perfect collaboration tool -- if only the learning curve weren't so steep. Google promises that the new version of Wave is faster and easier to use. I hope to prove Google right.

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