Google Wave works well as standalone system for chat, file sharing and so on. However, it also gives you the option to add extensions which enhance your experience and the range of functions it can perform. Extensions can be thought of as similar to Facebook applications; just as you can install apps to customise the way you use Facebook, you can add extensions to personalise the way you use Google Wave.
Extensions come in two varieties: gadgets and robots. Gadgets are the most similar to Facebook apps, you install them and they run as part of a wave (thread). To give an example: you can install the Sudoku gadget, and use it to play against a group of friends. Robots are more similar to the bots you see on Twitter, but far more sophisticated because they behave as kind of artificially intelligent participant in a wave. The best example is the Twitter robot, Tweety, which can be used to update your Twitter status and also to follow tweets from other users.
At the time of writing, the number of extensions is limited, but the open API means developers can write their own so the range should grow fairly rapidly. You can find a directory of currently available extensions at Wavety, and if you’d like to try your hand at writing your own, you’ll find more information about that here.
So, that’s the theory; here’s how to put it into practice. Adding both gadgets and robots is very, very easy. So easy in fact, there is a danger that people will be rather overzealous as some are with Facebook apps. I’ll start with a quick overview of how to add a robot, using Tweety as an example:
How To Add A Robot To Google Wave
1) Robots all have their own email address, which is what you use to install them. Click the cross icon at the bottom of your contacts list in the left sidebar. Add Tweety’s email address (firstname.lastname@example.org) and click submit.
NB: Apparently, some people are using a pared down version of Google Wave, and Tweety doesn’t seem to work with it.
How To Add A Gadget To Google Wave
Adding a gadget is just as simple, but they do work in a slightly different way.
1) Create a new wave.
2) In the top right corner of the input box you’ll see three little dots, click this icon. A dropdown menu will appear, from this select the gadget icon – it’s easy to spot, it’s the green one! Another box will appear, paste the url for your chosen gadget into it, and click Add.
As ever, if you have any questions don’t hesitate to ask in the comments!