Google Wave May Finally Tread Water With Email Notifications

Remember Google Wave? No, not Google Buzz — Wave, that other social information pump that Google launched last year. It’s hard to blame you if you don’t. While Google’s goals are ambitious with Wave, many users couldn’t figure out what to do with it, or why they needed it in their lives. Perhaps more importantly, it was basically impossible to know if someone was talking to you in Wave unless you had it open all the time. Not anymore.

Wave is finally turning on email notifications to alert you about new and updated waves. From the Inbox menu, simply select the new “Notifications” option to set how often (if at all) you’d like to receive them. The Wave team recommends that if you’re not a heavy user of Wave, you should get notified “immediately” upon a change. For more active users, the team seems to have a smart approach:

When you’re added to a new wave, or a wave that you are on changes, we’ll send you an email with a short summary of the text and links to go straight to your updated waves. Rest assured, we know waves can change a lot, so we will only send you one notification about a changed wave until you have logged in to look at it (i.e.: if a wave changes 10 times after we send the first notification, we won’t send 10 more emails). Waves you have open also won’t trigger updates.

While Google Wave and Buzz are completely different, they do share some similarities, and are fundamentally about Google pushing newer, more social ways to communicate. Of course, with Wave, Google didn’t shove it into the massively-used Gmail, so it seems that Wave hasn’t been able to gain the footing that Buzz has — even though Buzz arguably needs more work than Wave right now. As of December, Wave had sent out a million invites, but there are probably several times more people already using Buzz — again, just because of the Gmail thing.

The Wave team notes that this feature is still a work in progress and that there are some bugs (the ones listed don’t seem major).