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.”
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”.
Best historic April Fool's hoaxes
Best historic April Fool's hoaxes
1/11 Stringy theory
The BBC's 1957 Panorama programme about harvesting spaghetti from trees in Switzerland showed women carefully plucking the strands from trees and laying them in the sun to dry. It has gone down in history as one of the most believable April hoaxes. It was presented by the very believable Richard Dimbleby, after all.
2/11 Left-handed whopper
Burger King launched a marketing campaign for its 'Left-handed whopper' on April 1 1998. A press release sent out at the time estimated that nearly 11 million left-handed customers visited the fast food outlet in the UK each year. A spokesperson from the Left Handed Club is quoted as saying: "We are delighted that Burger King has recognised the difficulties of holding a hamburger in your left hand that has a natural right bias to it. We urge all left handed hamburger lovers to visit their nearest Burger King and taste the difference for themselves."
3/11 Alarming underwiring
In 1982 the Daily Mail reported a series of signal interferences in fire and burglar alarms, television and radio broadcasts due, it claimed, to the manufacture and sale of bras containing extremely conductive copper underwire. The report claimed that the combination of body heat and nylon caused the copper to produce static electricity which interfered with signals.
4/11 Licking it
The Sun made newspaper history with the world's first flavoured page. On page 17 a white square carries the words "Lick here" and an arrow advises viewers where to place their tongues to experience the flavour. It carries the warning "May contain nuts." The report reads: "Our ink-redible printing breakthrough comes after we teamed up with Brit boffins. It means that readers can lick this page to reveal a hidden taste. The revolution follows TV chef Heston Blumenthal, 43, unveiling lickable wallpaper." Sadly it doesn't work online.
5/11 The magic of colour TV
In 1962 colour TV seemed like a magical thing in Sweden. So when its one television channel broadcast an advisory by the station's technical expert Kjell Stensson telling viewers that they could manually convert their black and white sets into colour by covering the screen in a nylon stocking, thousands of people gave it a try. His technical explanation for the peculiar activity was that the fine mesh of the material would cause a reconfiguration of the light particles emanating from the screen. Viewers were advised to tilt their heads from side to side to help with the readjustment process.
6/11 Sighing over Gordon
"He thrilled them with his constitutional reform statement in 2007, he made them sigh at the International Nuclear Fuel Cycle Conference, he made them clap at the St Paul's Institute," reported The Times this morning, revealing the much anticipated news that a collection of PM Gordon Brown's speeches is soon to be available in all good bookshops. "The Change We Choose; Speeches 2007-2009 contains the Prime Minister's most exciting speeches from the past three years. Those who seek inspiration in the oratory of Gladstone, Disraeli and Churchill will now be able to turn to Mr Brown's discussion of the Millennium Development Goals, his appeal for global solutions to global problems and his promise of a points based immigration system."
7/11 Wife not?
Wikipedia is widely regarded as the font of all knowledge for journalists, students and, well, pretty much anyone who's ever used the internet. Shocking then for the feminists among us to discover that the comprehensive encyclopaedia condones wife selling. A recent entry states: "The English custom of wife selling was a way of ending an unsatisfactory marriage by mutual agreement that began in the late 17th century, when divorce was a practical impossibility for all but the very wealthiest. After parading his wife with a halter around her neck, arm, or waist, a husband would publicly auction her to the highest bidder. Wife selling provides the backdrop for Thomas Hardy's novel The Mayor of Casterbridge, in which the central character sells his wife at the beginning of the story, an act that haunts him for the rest of his life and ultimately destroys him."
8/11 Star turn
Well-known television astronomer and national treasure Patrick Moore announced on BBC Radio 2 on April fool's in 1976 that due to an unusual alignment of planets, known as the Jovian-Plutonian gravitational effect, Earth would have a temporary reduction in the gravitational pull. He urged listeners to jump at exactly 9.47am to experience weightlessness. Thousands called in to say they'd felt the decrease in gravity and one woman even claimed that she and eleven friends "wafted from their chairs and orbited gently around the room."
9/11 Just my type
On April 1 1977 The Guardian published a seven-page supplement on the semi colon-shaped islands of San Serriffe, situated somewhere in the Indian Ocean. The two main islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse and the editorial was littered with other puns and plays on words relating to typography. The islands were used for subsequent hoaxes in 1978, 1980 and 1999 and they often turn up in the paper's cryptic crossword.
10/11 Less fun for blondes...
Stuffy global agencies aren't known for their jokes. Which made it all the more believable in April 2002 when the World Health Organization released a report claiming that natural blondes were likely to be extinct within 200 years. It said that due to the proliferation of dyed blondes and a genetic weakness, the last natural blonde would probably be born in 2202. The study was revealed to be a hoax and the WHO denied conducting the research.
11/11 Pinana colada?
One April 1st Waitrose supermarket announced it was stocking an exotic new fruit: the Pinana, a hybrid combination of a pineapple and a banana. The advert read: "Fresh in today and exclusive to Waitrose. If you find that all Waitrose pinanas have sold out, don't worry, there's 50% off our essential Waitrose strawberries."
#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.
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 email@example.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.