I have also recently added two new Google products to my toolbox: Google Voice and Google Wave.
Google Voice is a phone forwarding system that gives me significant control over my phone lines, voicemail, and text messages. I've had it for a few months now and I love it. It would be even more useful if I had multiple phones, but for now I just use the voicemail capabilities. I can filter calls, put up specific messages for specific callers, save voicemails to my computer (I really wish I had this capability when my dad left the Goose V-formation joke on my voicemail), and receive transcripts of each phone message as an email or a text on my phone. It's quick and easy to check (and while the transcript program isn't perfect, it's good enough for me to use to interpret the urgency and topic of the message). It's still in beta and requires an invite to get in, but those are relatively easy to come by. I've used up my invites already, so I can't get you in myself, but I know a few people who might. And I got in by requesting an invite directly from Google. Check it out if either of the following apply to you:
- You have multiple phones and want to manage when calls go to which lines. Especially useful for those of you who have poor cell reception in your house, or who can't or don't want to get cell phone calls at work.
- You like to keep old messages, but hate trying to navigate the list structure of traditional voicemail to find them again.
Google Wave is billed as what email would look like if it was invented today. It's a communications/collaboration platform that acts as a sort of combination of Gmail, Google Docs, Wiki, and Instant Messaging (if none of those words mean anything to you, than you probably don't need Wave either). It's great for collaboration. Sarah and I have been doing a fair amount of our wedding planning with it. The trouble is that it's the kind of thing that is only really useful at scale. Right now it's kind of empty, although every time I sign on, I see more of my design friends have joined it (especially those still in school). This one is also still in early beta, so it has issues. They're getting better, and the promise is there, but it still needs some polish. I do have plenty of invitations available for this. If you're interested, let me know.
I realize I'm not selling it very well, but it is an excellent tool. If more of my friends were on it, I'd use it to organize our Xbox Live nights and coordinate groomsmen activities. This would have been the perfect place to organize the weekly Dinner & Game nights we used to have in DC. And, of course, I can imagine some pretty entertaining B&B conversations on here :)