April Fools has always been a time for the internet to burst with creativity whether it’s YouTube travelling through time or deadly butterfly attacks, and 2012 was no different. Google has a strong reputation of making the most of April Fools and they did not disappoint this year.
Let’s start with one of my favourite pranks this year was the feature to turn Google Maps into an 8-bit mode (it’s since been taken off but you can still access it on google.co.jp), reminiscent of old RPG’s that I used to enjoy on the NES – they even threw in a few Easter eggs for the real nerds, such as pixel art versions of famous landmarks and even the Dragonlord from NES game, Dragon Warrior.
There was even a YouTube video that announced the release of a video game RPG of Google Maps complete with it’s own questing mode – sadly, however, this will never be a reality.
Alongside this, Google also released an evolution of its ‘advanced search’ function with the ‘Really Advanced Search’, and extremely detailed and far-fetched search matrix which would allow users to search for ‘rhyming slang’, ‘innuendo’ and even ‘this exact word or phrase, whose sum of unicode code points is a mersenne prime’. Even one of our employees was fooled by this, albeit only briefly until a search result revealed the truth.
Further mocking the multi-tasking nature of modern day internet users, Google announced a Chrome multitask mode whereby busy users can use two mouse to complete two tasks at once – I mean, it just looks so natural! And the shutdown feature is a stroke of genius. Watch the demonstration video to see for yourself!
However, all of this pales in comparison to my personal favourite – a concept they released in April of last year that neatly combined the hot topic of motion control (with a particular nod to the Microsoft Kinect) with everyone’s favourite email system, thus creating ‘Gmail Motion’.
Now simply by performing motions in front of the webcam, users can access, reply and even type out their emails with actions that have been decided by paralanguage experts and motion specialists It’s roll out was as detailed as any Google product launch and show the lengths to which Google was prepared to go to convince us of its authenticity.
It’s refreshing to see that even though Google removed one of my favourite features (Google Labs) they are still a creative and innovative force that holds onto it’s sense of humour; a common theme in many popular websites, such as reddit, tumblr and YouTube.
Other highlights of Google’s April Fool pranks:
- Delivering every single YouTube video to your door on hundreds and thousands of DVDs. It’s likely that at least a third of these are cat-related.
- Gmail Tap – Who needs a keyboard when you can tap our your emails in morse code?
- Google PPC blimp ads – for those who really want to appear above the fold, Google now sell PPC ad space on giant blimps.
- And another favourite that went relatively unnoticed this year – Google Jargon Bot!