- Google last night invited 100,000 people to become the first users of its latest internet tool which aims to rival email, Twitter and Facebook.
- Google Wave allows a limitless number of internet users anywhere in the world to have instant conversations and share files.
- The service combines aspects of email, instant messaging, social networking and web chat and is aimed at friends catching up with one another and business partners sharing documents.
Users can join a wave - a group of web users - to have a discussion or share photos or documents.
Everyone in the wave can see what other users are typing and any document placed into the wave can be accessed by all the users at the same time.
In what sounds like a recipe for chaos, colleagues can work on the same document at the same time, seeing every change being made to the document as it is made.
Among suggested uses for Google Wave are organising trips, laboratory record-keeping and journalism.
It was developed by Lars and Jens Rasmussen, the brothers behind Google Maps.
From 4pm yesterday Google invited 100,000 users, who had signed up to a waiting list, to try out Google Wave. It will be open to everyone in 2010.
A spokesman for Google touted the service as 'how email would look if it was invented today', adding: 'It would be collaborative and there would be no barriers between live instant messaging, email and documents and so on.
'That is what Google Wave is - email for the 21st century.'