com.google: company unveils backwards search engine and huggable digital assistant on April Fools Day

Run of pranks began yesterday with a playable Pacman in Google Maps

Google has turned its search engine backwards and unveiled a huggable, digital personal assistant and more as part of its April Fools' Day pranks.

The day of celebration (and groaning) began early at the search giant, when it yesterday unveiled a playable version of Pacman that would change any road in its Maps service into a playable level. Though the game seemed related to the day, it worked and there was no joke involved.

Google’s other big project also turned the search engine backwards, hosting a reversed version at com.google.

Again, Google said that the prank had a serious message — helping show how it tries to think about things from other angles.

And it’s also the first time that the company used its personal .google domain. Google turned on the top-level domain names late last year and is expected to start using them for its projects in the future.

The rest of Google’s jokes were more classic versions of the form. They included a dial-up mode for Google Fiber, its super-fast internet service; Google Panda, which is a cuddly toy that can answer questions in the same that Google Now does; a keyless keyboard launched by the company’s Japanese division; Chrome selfie, which allows users to react to stories with pictures of themselves; and a physical mail product.

Dial-up mode for Google Fiber

The company’s super-fast internet service, rolled out to select cities in the US, has solved the problem for many of those with slow internet connections. But maybe that wasn’t such a good thing after all, claims Google’s spoof product announcement.

“The loading bar is a signal to many of us to take care of those little things- like making a cup of coffee, taking that bathroom break or just petting the dog,” the team write in the announcement. “We have been told that Fiber’s seemingly instant connections have taken away that valuable time. So today we are introducing Dial-Up Mode to slow your Fiber speeds down. Relax to your 56k connection and get those precious moments back.”

Chrome selfie

This is another of Google’s pranks that actually works, allowing you to take pictures of yourself reacting to news articles or other websites. Claiming that internet browsing takes us away from “selfie-taking time”, and that “it’s a tragedy that your reactions, as well as luscious lashes and beautiful brows, are going uncaptured”.

#ChromeSelfie, as Google refers to it, allows you to open a camera window up beneath a story, take a picture of yourself, and then send it to friends. “One #ChromeSelfie can easily replace dozens of words, improving efficiency and comprehension,” the team write.

This has actually been added to Chrome, according to reports, and so can be tried out now.

Google Panda

Maybe the cutest announcement so far, Google Japan supposedly unveiled a cute panda that can also work as a personal assistant. Google already has Now — a digital assistant that uses information it has about you to help you with tasks — but Google said that has now been integrated into a panda.

Smartbox by Inbox

Google has been working to “fix” email, which is said to be too busy and distracting, and has supposedly unveiled a product that will do the same for physical mail.

“We’re excited to introduce Smartbox—a better, smarter mailbox that fuses physical mail with everything you love about the electronic kind,” Google said in its announcement.

Google recommends those that are interested to email inbox@google.com to sign up for a trial. By coincidence, that happens to be the address to sign up for its new email app, announced late last year.

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