Google kicked off the first day of its I/O developer conference Wednesday by opening up Wave to the general public, providing a preview of a Chrome Web store, introducing Google Apps Engine for Business, and unveiling a few new APIs.
Executives also talked up the benefits of HTML5.
Wave, which Google debuted at last year’s I/O conference, is a collaboration tool that has been in invite-only public beta mode since September. Invites are now open to everyone at wave.google.com, and Google Apps administrators can now enable Wave for all users at no extra cost, said Lars Rasmussen, Google’s software engineering manager.
Rasmussen acknowledged that early adopters of Wave might have found that it was not ready for primetime, but said Wednesday that “now is the time to come back.” Google has “put a lot of work into basic usability things,” he said, like e-mail notifications, navigating to unread pieces of a Wave, as well as tutorials and templates for new users.
Sundar Pichai, Google’s vice president of product management, also provided a sneak peak at a Chrome Web Store, a Web-based app store.
When live, the Web Store will appear as a new tab within Chrome, Pichai said. The store will feature a gallery of apps, which can then be added to a customized tab. Pichai demoed an HTML5-based version of Twitter client TweetDeck that utilizes Google’s notification and geo-location APIs. He also showed off a Flash-based version of the popular mobile game Plants vs. Zombies for the Chrome Web Store.
“Apps in the Chrome Web Store can be built on standard Web technologies like Flash and we will support all of them in the Chrome Web Store,” Pichai said.
Google is expected to release a Google Chrome OS-based netbook later this year.
On that front, Google also announced WebM, an open Web media format project. As part of the effort, “we are fully open sourcing VP8, [a video codec], under a royalty-free license,” Pichai said. “Video is one of the most important forms of communication on the Web, [and] we think video should have a great, free, open alternative as well.”
WebM also includes Vorbis, an already open-source audio codec, and a container format based on a subset of the Matroska media container. Supporters include Mozilla, Opera, and Adobe, which appeared Wednesday to announce Adobe HTML5 for Dreamweaver. A developer preview can be found at www.webmproject.org.
The effort is part of Google’s August 2009 acquisition of On2 Technologies, a creator of high-quality video compression technology, Pichai said.
On the API front, Google also announced some updates to its APIs. The Google Maps API v3 is now enterprise-ready and part of the Google Maps API Premier, the company introduced new ways to optimize AdSense on your Web site, a new version of the Feed API, and a new Google Font API.
Google also launched Google App Engine for businesses.
Google designed its App Engine for Business for enterprise customers, building the service on top of a 99.9 percent uptime service-level agreement, centralized administration tools, and security. But the pricing is set at an SMB level: $8 per user, per application, per month – capped at $1,000 per application per month. It is still in preview, and will be available later this year.
Google also announced an agreement with VMware to connect its developer tools with the VMware SpringSource tool suite to quickly build Java applications.