April Fools’ Day: the Internet’s best techy pranks

Today is April Fools’ Day so don’t take everything you read at face value. Practical jokers as they are, Google is pulling a bunch of April Fools’ Day pranks so a lot of people will find it difficult to read today’s headlines without disbelieving them. Google’s jokes range from the Google Nose Beta button in search (“Smelling is believing”) to Google Treasure Maps, a new mapping product to help you find treasure in cities to YouTube closing down after eight years.

They aren’t the only ones, other brands pulled pranks of their own. Heck, companies are even issuing press releases with April Fools’ Day announcements. I’ve included more stuff right after the break, like Gmail Blue, a Google Maps Street View feature which lets you decorate your house with themes, a Lumia-branded microwave oven, the Samsung Eco Tree and lots more…

Google Nose lets you feel “what wet dogs smell like,” jokes Google. Per Google’s Aromabase, Abraham Lincoln smells like an old, musty “remnant of American history.”

Don’t ask, don’t smell: For when you’re wary of your query – SafeSearch included.

Speaking of search, Microsoft has a nice Easter Egg on its search – that is, decision – engine: go to Bing, type in “Google” into the search box, hit the Search button and see what happens.

Bing April Fools Day

You should be redirected to a page reminiscent of Google.

A nice touch: instead of ‘I’m feeling lucky’ it says, ‘I’m feeling confused’.

Next up is Google Maps Treasure mode. A post over at the Google Maps blog explains its divers who were capturing Google Maps underwater Street View images last September have discovered a paper map that has been verified as the infamous pirate William “Captain” Kidd’s treasure map.

The Internet giant is inviting us to work together to decipher the clues and uncover all of the secrets of the 315-year-old map over at Google+.

This is Captain Kidd’s treasure map.

Google Maps Treasure mode

You can go here or click on the “Treasure” button in the top right corner of Google Maps to interact with it.

“Due to our nascent nano-scanner technology we weren’t able to scan to the closest zoom levels,” the company cautions. “If you come across a blank map, zoom out to get back to the treasure map.”

A special message from YouTube reveals the dirty secret: YouTube has never been a video sharing service for the masses. Instead, it was simply an eight-year contest to find the world’s best clip. And now that it has been found, YouTube is closing for good.

From the official YouTube blog:

When we started out in 2005, we focused on rapidly increasing user engagement. We wanted an inventive way to draw people in and catalyze their creativity. The result? A contest for the best video on our site.

Nearly eight years later, with 72 hours of video being uploaded every minute, we finally have enough content to close the competition. We’ve started the process to select a winner and as of tomorrow at midnight, we will be closing the site to submissions.

Google’s Levity algorythm for Google Apps is also funny, it lets you “spice up even the most boring of work days.”

By the way, that looks to be Glen from The Walking Dead at mark 0:39, no?

Another joke: Gmail Blue, a blue-ish Gmail theme that’s “fast, beautiful, powerful.”

It’s a moonshot project that’s been six years in the making, says the company, because the technology just wasn’t there up until recently.

Visit gmail.com/blue to learn more about Gmail Blue.

Next up is Google+ Emotion, a new feature of Google+ that lets you add emoticons to your Google+ Photos.

Google Plus Photos Emotion

Google+ Emotion taps some powerful cloud algorithms, a Google+ post by Erik Murphy explains:

We will plumb the emotional depths of everyone in the photo, then summarize their feelings with a beautifully crafted, emotion icon.

Click on the button again to return to the original version of your photo. We hope you enjoy using the feature and we look forward to seeing your emotionally-charged posts 😉

Actually, I can easily see something like this implemented for real.

Finally, there’s Google SCHMICK (Simple Complete House Makeover Internet Conversion Kit) , a handy Maps feature that allows users to decorate their house with themes on Google Maps Street View.

Here’s the ‘before’ and ‘after’ view of a sample renovation project on Google SCHMICK:

Google SCHMICK beforeGoogle SCHMICK after
Click for larger.

From the Australia Google Maps team:

Forgot to mow the nature strip? Deck it out with some fresh buffalo grass. Front steps falling down? Swap them out for doric columns and a pergola.

Graffiti on the front fence? Cover it with so many palm trees people will think they’re on the Vegas strip.

Find out more about the “launch” of SCHMICK here.

I wish Apple made some April Fools’ Day jokes.

Here’s something related: co-founders Steve Jobs and Steve Wozniak officially formed the Apple Computer Company on April 1, back in 1976.

That’s not a joke, look it up on Wikipedia.

The company was later incorporated as Apple Computer, Inc. on January 3, 1977. At the January 2007 iPhone introduction, Steve Jobs announced they were dropping “Computer” to be known only as Apple, Inc., reflecting the company’s newly found direction as the maker of consumer electronics.

And here’s a special broadcast by BBC News.

The troubled illegal download site the Pirate Bay rather sarcastically writes that “without further due [sic], we hereby announce that we have moved our servers from the evil North Korea to the greatest fuckin nation in the entire world … The United States of America, fuck yeah!”

I’m still trying to figure out whether Nasa’s $2.6 billion robotic mission to “catch an asteroid in a giant bag and tow it to the Moon” is a joke or actually part of a “long-term programme that could one day lead to the permanent settlement of humans in space.”

You may also want to check out Twitter’s Twttr prank (a plan to charge us to use vowels in tweets – “we’re doing this because we believe that by eliminating vowels, we’ll encourage a more efficient and ‘dense’ form of communication”) and Sony’s Animalia line of electronics for pets.

By the way, Twitter co-founders had actually considered that abbreviated ‘Twttr’ style as the service moniker before settling on ‘Twitter,’ according to CNN.

I’m also loving iFixit’s most difficult and controversial teardown yet, Nokia’s new line of Lumia-colored touchscreen microwaves (depicted below) or the Play-Doh 3D Printer, your kid’s first 3D printer from ThinkGeek.

Nokia Lumia microwave owen

Toshiba says it’s made a brand new console dubbed the Shibasphere featuring Toshiba’s exclusive Logical Aggression Monitoring, an unprecedented computing power, a completely controller-free interface and other goodies.


If you’re a fan of Soundcloud, they debuted a new tool called the Dropometer that gets you in the mental spac where you can prepare yourself for when that “unpredictable and surprising moment.”

Sphero fans, behold the newest addition to the Sphero family, the Sphero Peacekeeper Edition.

Here’s RunKeeper for iPad.

Oh, and let’s not forget Samsung, which has gone green for April 1 with the Smart Eco Tree which takes CO2 and releases oxygen to support a healthier environment.

Samsung Smart Eco Tree

In the process, the Samsung Eco Tree also uses a natural filtering system to eliminate pollutants and helps keep the humidity at a pleasant level.

“These features are fully automatic and require only the addition of water and S (Solar) Beams,” Samsung jokes.

The Virgin Atlantic glass-bottomed plane, BMW’s royal baby entrant, a Google Glass-inspired Goggles from the Guardian newspaper and Ikea’s GRÄSSAX, a flat-packed lawnmower, are all nice as well.

Ikea Grassax

And if you’ve run out of April Fools’ Day jokes, there’s a (free) app for that! Or, you can just browse Stumbleupon’s nice April Fools’ Day prank recommendations.

It’s nice that President Obama is also a joker.

If you stumbled upon a funny April Fools’ Day prank, please share it with us down in the comments.

And how are you celebrating this jokester’s holiday?