Google’s Prank Roundup for April Fools 2015 [Updated]
Once again, we have arrived on the most magical of holidays – the annual unveiling of HalfLife 3, and day on which co-workers believe it is appropriate to duct tape air horns behind doors. I speak, of course, about April Fools Day. As has become their custom, Google launched lighthearted “pranks” for each of their various services (with other tech sites and vendors following suit), and we have done our best to round up the humorous products and tweaks surfacing thus far.
Warning: spoilers ahead! From physical mailboxes to 56kbps Fiber, here are the nostalgic surprises awaiting the unwary here on April 1st.
Update: the jokes keep coming. Google has added a new cloud data storage platform composed of real clouds. Keep reading for the full list, or jump to “Actual Cloud” here.
Google’s location team is no stranger to video game inspired pranks, having gone 8-bit in 2012, pirate in 2013, and Pokémon last year. This time around, both the desktop and mobile versions are transformed into games of PAC-MAN, akin to the playable PAC-MAN Doodle that adorned Google’s homepage for the game’s 30th anniversary back in 2010.
To play, simply fire up Maps on your desktop and tap the PAC-MAN layer tucked alongside the familiar Earth view. Mobile works as well (both Android and iOS), but is limited to select locations around the globe. Head over to Google’s official announcement page for clues, or check out the list of solutions including the Taj Mahal and Niagra Falls below. Once at an approved site, PAC-MAN’s face (body?) will appear as a popup above the location button.
- Don’t drop the ball on the eve of your victory! Time Square
- Triumph is délicieux. Arc de Triomphe
- Does a Galaxian bonus await at the top of those 272 steps? Batu Caves, Kuala Lumpar
- Chomp your way to independence down seven lanes of July. Plaza de la República, Mexico City
- PAC-MAN and Ms. PAC-MAN can’t agree on which side is prettier: the American or the Canadian. Which side do you fall on, eh? Niagra Falls, Ontario
- After a chat with the Sphinx, PAC-MAN sounds more like “Dokki Dokki”. Aman Square, Ad Doqi
- Pause game play to admire Chagall’s stained glass windows and have a bit of chocolate. Fraumünster Church, Zurich
- Can you score 10^(10^100) points? Googleplex, California
- Whether they’re flashing blue or sporting their natural colors, Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde are always kakkoii. EvenVogue agrees they’re living in the trendiest of neighborhoods. Hanover Square, London
- Previous PAC-MAN lives don’t get to rest in a white marble mausoleum. Taj Mahal, Uttar Pradesh
- Head to the valley of the sun and earn your grade in the art of the game. Metropolitan Art Institute, Phoenix
- How well can you navigate the radiating streets of the distrito federal? Plaza Del Ejecutivo, Mexico City
- Victory is like gothic glockenspiel musik to our ears. Neues Rathaus, Munich
- Pay special attention to Blinky – he might blend in with the dreaming red kangaroos! Victoria Square, Adelaide
- You’ll find the Beach PAC-MAN World Cup here before long.
Source: Google lat-long blog
Ingress: Pac Man
PAC-MAN continues his rampage through the real world in this year’s prank on the augmented reality game Ingress. It seems that portals are now guarded by Blinky, Pinky, Inky and Clyde, but what wonders lurk beyond? Has the Google team fallen head over heels for Hollywood’s upcoming Pixels blockbuster?
Gmail: Smartbox Inbox
Does your snail-mail need push notifications? What about a temperature controlled mailbox, with apps? The Gmail/Inbox team is releasing a new home appliance to stand alongside the Nest: a physical mailbox powered by Android. The item is currently in “field trials” and “waitlisted,” but will be rolled out to luck Inbox customers later this year. Well, lucky and gullible Inbox customers.
As a bonus, Inbox might give out another round of invites to anyone emailing [email protected] today. This part sounds legitimate and is worth a shot if you’re still waiting to be included in the beta, but the service is practically in public release at this point.
Source: Gmail Blog
Google Japan is bringing the power of Gooogle Now to a fuzzy panda bear near you.
“A collective and fuzzy curiosity is like millions of strands of fur. You have the unknown, the black – that which can not be decided. And you have the soon to be known (or searchable) – that’s like the white part of the database. To bring all of that together into a flexible, original online learning system, those polar opposites, there’s really only one form that would be appropriate, and that’s the panda bear.” – Matt Cutts, Distinguished Software Engineer (on leave)
With a nod to the Nexus line, Google Panda is available in two sizes: the Panda 5, and the larger Panda 6.
While Google’s product is a joke, IBM’s Watson has beaten the search giant to the punch by powering a real-life toy with the same goals. CongiToys by Elemental Path are a series of smart dinosaurs that engage children in educational conversation, tracking progress along the way. The dino easily blew past its $50k Kickstarter goal, raising a whopping $275,000 from 2,256 early adopters during its campaign that ended last month. I suppose that great minds do think alike, but Google might want to amend its claim of originality when this April Fools panda borrows a page from Gmail and turns out to be real.
Japan: Keyless Keyboard
Do you long for an easier(?) way to text? Try this new noisemaker-mounted camera that interprets the varying lengths of party horn roll into symbols, like a trombone for text.
Is your gigabit internet connection too fast? Now you can get back to the simpler things in life like reading a book, cooking dinner, or spending time with family while your simulated 56k modem beeps and buzzes for the next 48 hours loading YouTube. This is the zen-like approach of Google’s Fiber’s new Dial-Up Mode, so get off your computers and rejoin reality! Just kidding. Don’t ever stop clicking those banner ads – they power the internet (re: Google).
Source: Google Fiber Blog
Chrome: Selfie Reactions
Share your reaction along with the webpage using Chrome for Android’s new selfie-sharing feature. To activate the feature, open the latest version of Chrome and select “Share a reaction” from the overflow menu. This opens a webcam to share a hashtag-touting image with your social media account of choice.
The only question left is how do you reach your phone for web browsing when it’s attached to the end of your custom Moto Selfie Stick? Yes, a selfie stick. See our companion roundup for this and other inventions, but don’t say you weren’t warned.
Source: Google Chrome Blog
Chrome: Self-browsing Chromebook
“Re thinking computing”
Chromebook owners can head over to the Chrome Web Store for a taste of self driving
cars computers today. This plugin sends compatible laptops on a page-viewing auto-pilot trip through the internet. In the words of my colleague, Mathew Brack:
“My chromebook has never given me so much freedom. Allowing me to take a hands off approach to my browsing, self driving really flows from page to page, meaning I can focus on more important things like changing the TV channel or paying attention to the important people in my life when they want to talk. But in perfect honesty if i could set it up as a screensaver, I would.”
It is yet to be seen how this technology deals with Google’s own No Captcha ReCaptcha that is designed to thwart auto-browsing robots posing as humans, but it’s clear that productivity will never be the same on Chromebooks. Our testing prominently featured XKCD (whose author will likely approve), but your results may vary. Auto-browse responsibly.
Source: Google Chrome Blog
YouTube: Darude Sandstorm
Add Darude Sandstorm to any YouTube video with the “add music” button next to the gear icon.
Source: YouTube Blog
Hangouts Easter Egg: Happy April Fools
Type any variation of “Happy April Fools,” “April Fools!” into Google Hangouts, and watch as jokers, clowns, and other characters pop into view to taunt your hapless victim. This is certainly a fitting way to end a prank (or start a pranking war, depending on your adversary).
The animations are the latest in a string of Easter Eggs (none of which have yet been laid on Easter), including:
- Happy Birthday
- And the Konami Code
“Literally a cloud.”
Introducing Google Actual Cloud Platform, the world’s
first public cloud running on servers in the troposphere.
Faster and more scalable than traditional data centers, along with being mobile, lightweight and fluffy. Actual Cloud comes with super-charged read/write performance during inclement weather (Stormboost™), a weather dashboard in the developers’ console, and more. Surprisingly, nothing in the write-up mentions Google Loon or Titan, the other atmospheric endeavors aiming to beam the internet do your homes from cloud-level balloons and drones, respectively. Perhaps this is an offshoot, perhaps not. After all, Mozilla and others are looking to hoist tiny data centers into the stratosphere as well, through partnerships with the likes of CubeSat. One to ten kilogram micro-satellites aren’t as small as water droplets, but they are real. Discuss!
Source: Google Cloud Platform
Which Google prank is your favorite this year? Did we leave any out? Let us know in the comments, and be sure to check back as the day progresses for updates!