Google Wave Due Soon; Early Apps Are Arriving Now

When Google (s goog) recently announced its Google Wave initiative, there were a lot of posts going around the web characterizing it as earth-changing news, although some questioned the effort. Wave combines email, instant messaging, wiki features and more, conjuring up images of a next-generation communications tool. Now, the Google Wave team has posted an update on the project’s status, including information on how developers can start using it early, and when users at large can.

According to the Google Wave team’s post, 6,000 developer accounts have already been rolled out, and the team will sift through 20,000 additional requests during August. You can request a developer account here.

The team has also announced that the service will open to the public on September 30th. The team is currently working on improving Wave’s speed, stability and usability. Wave APIs are also being expanded.

Because developers are already using Wave, those with a sandbox account can already find a fair number of sample Wave applications and APIs in this gallery, and in this post. I don’t yet have a sandbox account, but I’m getting a better picture of how Wave applications may look and feel just from viewing the descriptions of many of them. If you’re interested in finding out what Wave is like, Solid State Group Technical Director Ben Rometsch has published detailed first impressions of the service, gained through his developer account, here.

One of the sample Wave applications lets you embed Wave(s) in a blog post or on a web page. That seems like an interesting way to build on the basic commenting system present on most blogs; I might find ways to use that in my posts here. There are even games built around Wave.

The Google Wave team is poised to put up additional posts this week summarizing what went on at Google Wave Federation Day in Mountain View, Calif. I remain skeptical about Wave necessarily being a huge game-changer, partly because almost anything Google announces immediately gets an overwhelmingly positive reaction. Still, the more I see of the development action going on around it, and the more specifics on applications I see about it, the more interested I am to see what it’s actually capable of.

When I first digested the news of Wave, I was reminded of all the companies that have tried to deliver the “universal inbox” over the years. These were supposed to be where all your email, voice mail, instant messages and every other type of communication got aggregated, and none of them really took off in a big way. Looking at the types of applications coming for Wave, though, makes me think differently about it. Could it improve how blogs work? Could it take the idea of a wiki to the next level? It looks like we shall soon see, and it also looks like more of an application platform than it did before.

Have you tried Google Wave? Let us know your thoughts in the comments.