While Google has recently been accused of too aggressively spring-cleaning its myriad useful and interesting services, with victims such as Reader, the company still does a good job amusing users all year round with its Doodles. Of course, the company has not missed many chances for fun with April Fools' Day in the past, and this year’s extravaganza makes us whistle appreciatively in wonder at the amount Google is willing to spend for a few pranks.
There have already been at least nine pranks so, will April Fools' Day scarcely underway in some parts of the world. We hope Google has more in store for us today. In the meanwhile, check out our round-up of Google’s April Fools' Day shenanigans, pieced together by bloggers and users.
YouTube to Shutdown for 10 Years
YouTube put up a video on its channel on Sunday, titled “YouTube’s ready to select a winner”. The video contained “A Message from YouTube,” announcing the site will be shutting down on April 1st night. It also posted on its official YouTube blog.
According to the prank, the largest video-sharing network was actually created as a video-entry contest, and now they finally have enough videos, after 8-yearsz. The video revealed YouTube would be using a whole panel of judges and commenters to select the ‘Best Video’, with the help of 30,000 technicians to narrow the massive list of submissions to 150,000. Day 1 ‘Best Video’ nominations were scheduled to be announced later on April Fools' Day. The whole process will take 10 years, Google joked, with YouTube set to re-open 10 years later, solely featuring the Best Video. The winner will receive $500 for their next creative endeavour, and an MP3 player.
The video description reads:
Thanks for all your great entries.
YouTube finally has enough videos to begin selecting a winner.
What do you think is the #bestvideo on YouTube?
We've been thrilled with all of the diverse, creative entries we've seen so far, and we can't wait to begin the process of selecting the best video. We'll be announcing the winner in 10 years.
Far down in the description, Google thankfully reveals the whole thing was just a charade for April Fools' Day, something we feel would have been vital for some of the many millions of YouTube viewers, who would have otherwise gone crazy trying to watch as many of their favourite videos one last time, before YouTube deleted them all – like the prank video cautions. Some, we are sure, fell for it anyway.
Google Nose beta
Google unveiled a new prank service, called Google Nose beta, supposedly designed to tell you what your search queries smell like. However, the ‘Nose beta’ tab in search results doesn’t actually reveal anything, but instead redirects you to the Google Nose landing page, which invites you to try the service, returning random preset results, where ‘success’ smells ‘sweet’, ‘airport terminal’ smells like ‘baked tarmac and lost luggage’. The information is apparently compiled in the Google Aromabase (featuring 15M scentibytes), which takes data from Android phones and StreetView cars equipped with odour detection capabilities.
Calling itself “the new scentsation in search” and “your internet sommelier”, Google Nose insists ‘smelling is believing’. Apart from the added functionality of ‘Don't ask, don't smell’ SafeSearch, Google jokingly promises ‘Scratch and Sniff Books’, ‘Foodles’, ‘Self-driving New Car Smell’, ‘YouTube Nosed Captions’ and ‘AdScentBETA for Business’. Let us see how long the service stays alive, or if Google will try to pass it off as an aid for olfactory-challenged users.
Google Photos with Emotion
Google introduced a new bogus feature for Google Photos, called Emotion, which allows users to add stylized emotions, or emoticons to their photos. According to Google’s Erik Murphy-Chutorian, the Emotion service will help users “create richer, more expressive photographs.”
According to Murphy-Chutorian, ‘nothing beats the richness and elegance of a few properly placed colons, parentheses, letters and hyphens’ such as – :-) :P :O :/ – which are “representations of your innermost emotions,” “simple, and best of all, unambiguous :P”
The Gmail Team announced Gmail Blue with a post on the official Gmail blog. The post reads:
Gmail launched nine years ago on April 1st, 2004. Since then you've been able to use hundreds of new features that push the boundaries of what email can do and make it easier to get things done.
Starting today, you'll get to experience the next big step for Gmail, Gmail Blue. Watch the video to learn more:
As you can see from the extremely tongue-in-cheek video, Gmail Blue is obviously no big step, but a simple colouration of the entire Gmail interface. The funniest quote is probably - “In trying to bring email into the 21st century, we are faced with a challenge, how do we completely redesign and recreate something, while keeping it exactly the same? The answer is Gmail Blue.”
Funnily enough, the Gmail Blue feature or theme is not actually available, even for larks.
Google Treasure Map
A new treasure map mode is now available via Google Maps, where users are invited to explore 2D landmarks and decrypt symbols, in order to find treasure. Apart from the various Easter eggs Google planted, the prank here is that Google says its Street View team had found a treasure map belonging to the pirate William “Captain” Kidd, when it was on its legitimate expedition to the Indian Ocean for its underwater collection, a map that users can decipher. Check out the video below for more details.
Google Australia had its own Maps prank, called SCHMICK, short for Simple Complete House Makeover Internet Conversion Kit. It has been designed to give users the ability to modify their homes on Google Maps, adding various themes and features. The SCHMICK feature can’t actually be accessed though, and is just a gimmick. Clicking on the find out more link, leads to multiple "April Fools' Day" announcements.
International Space Station - Control Room
Web administrators using Google Analytics for their domain may have been surprised to note that they received traffic from the International Space Station – Control Room, a prank that Google is playing on them. Just like other sites have reported, we too see 41 active visitors from the ISS - Control Room, with GA sweetly informing us that the visitor type is “April Fools”. There are probably less than 10 astronauts on the International Space Station, so the number 41 is also quite a joke.
Google Fiber Goes Mainstream
In another video, without a corresponding blog post, Google announced it will be rolling out Google Fiber service to utility poles in the United States, jokingly promising gigabit speeds from regular electricity poles. Check out the video below for more fake details.
Finally, another video showcases the new Levity Algorithm for Google Apps, which “make the work week go a bit smoother, allowing Google apps users to bring a little extra to something to their job performance.”
The Levity Algorithm in essence adds humour to everything Google Apps, from calendar entries to slides, using a databank of humour from 50 years of The Second City’s comedic material. That’s the Levity Algorithm for you – “Leveraging humor so you don’t have to.”
Watch the video for laughs.