Emil was a reporter for The Next Web between 2012 and 2014. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, incl Emil was a reporter for The Next Web between 2012 and 2014. Over the years, he has covered the tech industry for multiple publications, including Ars Technica, Neowin, TechSpot, ZDNet, and CNET. Stay in touch via Facebook, Twitter, and Google+.
Every year, Google tries to outdo itself for April Fools’ Day. The company’s various divisions pull together more jokes than any other tech firm we know, and it gets difficult to keep track of them all. As a result, like last year we’ve put together a roundup.
Google Magic Hand
First up, Google Japan has introduced the Magic Hand, a new input method for smartphones. In short, you no longer have to operate your own mobile device: the magic hand does all the hard work.
The nonexistent device weighs just 800g and can be attached to any keyboard. There are right-hand and left-hand versions, as well as ones to replace your thumb, pinkie, cat paw, or back scratcher:
If you want to learn more, including the technical specifications, check the hand out here.
Google Maps Pokémon Challenge
The Google Maps team has launched a new Pokémon Challenge that lets anyone with an Android or iOS device catch the critters. Just launch the latest Google Maps app, tap the “Search” option at the top of the screen, and hit the “Press Start” option beside the blue Pokéball icon.
To play, you’ll need to use the map to find Pokémon nearby, catch them by going to the location in person, and finally add them to your Pokédex. If that seems complex, this video will explain it for you better:
We have to admit, this beats last year’s joke of Google Maps Treasure Mode.
Google says Gmail is 10 years old today, and that part is completely true: the service launched on April 1, 2004. To celebrate the double-digit anniversary, Google’s joke this year is the Gmail Shelfie, which stands for the SHareable sELFIE.
Google even went as far as to say that it is responsible for the selfie, calling Gmail “the pioneering platform for selfies” and explaining how the trend began:
When custom themes launched back in 2012, we urged you to find “your perfect image and make Gmail your own.” And you did. Many of you rushed to take photos of yourselves to upload as your Gmail custom theme, which you started referring to as selfies.
The company has a very scientific graph to back up its claim:
Yet since there’s no obvious way to share your selfie with others (Google doesn’t like to talk about Facebook, Instagram, or even apparently Google+), the Shelfie had to be introduced. With just a few clicks, everyone can now set your Shelfie as their Gmail theme “so they can enjoy checking, reading, and writing emails while seeing your friendly face in the background.” If you upload your selfie and upgrade it to a Gmail Shelfie, you may even manage to get it on the trending list.
Nest Total Temperature Control
Google’s acquisition of Nest Labs closed over a month ago, which means the home automation company can now join the April Fools’ Day bonanza. Nest has teamed up with Virgin America to reinvent the way people fly:
Total Temperature Control lets every single passenger set their own temperature for an even more personalized flight. There are even presets like Cancun Afternoon and Chicago Polar Vortex.
Speaking of acquisitions, Google also acquired social mapping software company Waze in June 2013, meaning this is also the first April Fools’ Day for the startup. Waze has announced its own acquisition: Israeli social enterprise software startup SingleSpotter. The result is WazeDates.
The service supposedly saw a successful limited beta in San Francisco and Tel Aviv, and will now launch as an expanded pilot to all Wazers in mid-April 2014, “allowing drivers to take the same hands-on approach to their personal life as they do to fighting traffic.” SingleSpotter’s patented algorithm monitors all smartphone activity to measure indicators that are most common among single mobile users, including Facebook relationship status, multiple vacation and happy hour listings within the phone’s calendar, frequent use of taxi apps during peak dating hours, unusually small food delivery orders, and unusually high frequency of pet accessory purchases.
This allows WazeDates to alert drivers of other likely singles on the road nearby. You can search for drivers based on age, sex, orientation, and so on.
Emoji translation in Chrome for Android and iOS
Google Translate support for Emoji is now built directly into Chrome for Android and iOS. In the company’s own words, you can now read all your favorite Web content “using efficient and emotive illustrations, instead of cumbersome text.”
Google’s translation algorithm interprets not just the definition of the words on a webpage, but also their context, tone, and sometimes even facial expression in order to convert them into symbols. It just makes so much sense:
Not only does this pictorial and theatrical language allow us to communicate complex emotions, it’s also far more compact. One Emoji symbol can easily replace dozens of characters, improving efficiency and comprehension on the go. It turns out the best way to communicate in the future is to look to the past: the ancient Egyptians were really onto something with their hieroglyphs.
Thankfully, the feature is entirely optional, and has to be enabled first: if your device’s date is April 1st, and you’ve updated to the latest Chrome release, just hit the “Translate to Emoji” option in the menu. Tap “Reload” to view the original page. Just like many Google Translate experiments, the feature is currently only available in English.
Auto Awesome Photobombs
The Google+ team has expanded the Auto Awesome feature to include photobombs. In short, the feature lets celebrities make a spontaneous appearance in your pictures.
To get your own photobomb, upload a new self portrait or group photo with friends, and leave a little room for a photobomb. Google is starting with David Hasselhoff, and unfortunately wouldn’t say if other celebrities would be joining the fray.
Google Auto-Awesome Resumes
If you’ve ever hosted a CV in Google Drive, you’ll know the current swathe of editing options in Google Docs. One of the company’s japes today is a promotional video for Auto-Awesome, which adds some fun effects to your perfectly crafted document. The Pokemon theme – clearly inspired by its popular Google Maps update – and Doge designs are our favorites.
Google takes this one step further by suggesting that if you submit a resume through Google Careers, it’ll pair you with the perfect position at its company. Software Dogengineer? Sounds terrific.
‘Top planets and moons’ in AdSense
If you run a business on the Web, it’s important to know where your customers are coming from right? With its latest “update” to AdSense, the company is now teasing a new “top planets and moons” report.
So sure, the majority of your visitors are probably coming from Earth. But what about Mars and the Moon? Well, now you know. “With our recent discovery of the interplanetary IP address repository, you’ll have access to even more reports that can help you improve user engagement on your site,” a Google+ post reads. “For example, if you notice a lot of traffic coming from Mars, try adding more pages in Martian to engage with those audiences.”
Official cat keyboard
Cats just love to type. No matter where you’re sitting, if you own a feline you can guarantee that they’ll find you and stomp all over your keyboard. We always assume that they just want our attention, but what if, all along, they’ve been trying to communicate with us?
Google evangelist François Beaufort teased the official Cat Keyboard, which you can download from the Chrome Webstore here. With a selection of pawprint buttons and a giant mouse in the middle, you can quickly translate their inputs.
A quick extract: “Beware the vacusuck my son. The wheels that bite, the motor that whirs. Beware the glub-glub flush, and FEED ME! FEED ME! FEED ME! FEED ME! FEED ME! shun the frumious nailclippers. Well here’s something nyuu… Where’d the red dot go? I’m feline great. Dog? Where? So what if I got hair all over the couch.”
YouTube’s viral video trends for 2014
YouTube is the home of ‘viral’ videos and so, not surprisingly, Google has a few predictions for what will be the next big trends in 2014. In fact, YouTube is asking its community to submit their own viral trend ideas.
YouTube expects planking to be replaced by clocking, which involves expressing the time with both arms in a random location, and finish-lining, which requires greeting a stranger with a line of colorful tape found at the end of an athletics competition. Bonus points if you dress up as a runner.
Then there’s the ‘Glub Glub Water Dance’, flash-mob divorces, bun-nutting and ‘kissing dad’. Basically, just check out the video above for a full run-down.
Chromecast for squirrels
This one could past just pass for a quirky ad:
Except that Google says it is working with “developers of ‘paw-friendly’ apps to build Chromecast support into more of the apps and websites both humans and squirrels love.”
Data-less decision making on Analytics Academy
A small Easter egg, but one that should make marketers, webmasters and businesses smile. If you head over to the Analytics Academy, you’ll find a new course for “data-less” decision making with Google Instructor Justin Cutron.
The course will give you an overview for making uninformed decisions, as well as tips and tricks for “what to do when you have no measurement plan.” The course schedule is outlined too with up to four different units, covering everything from Ouija boards to fuzzy math.
Did you know that fiber and coffee go together? As it turns out, people love nothing more than supping a warm mug of goodness while settling down to watch some prime-time entertainment, which is why Google is rolling out its brand new Coffee-To-The-Home (CTTH) program.
“The key insight behind CTTH is pretty simple: as long as we’re already doing thousands of miles of construction to pull fiber lines throughout cities, why not invest in a coffee network, too?,” says Michael Costa, the aptly-named Google Product Manager. “From now on, as we bring fiber throughout a city, we’ll also install pipelines that hook up homes to local baristas via a ‘hot beverage backbone’ (HBB).”
Quality coffee, mainlined directly into your living quarters. Priceless.
Google Apps for Business Dogs
Humans aren’t the only ones who need help being more productive at the office!
Features include Dmail with translation, Hangouts with Bark Enhancement, and paw recognition technology.
Google Play Signature Edition
This one is for app developers. Signature Apps lets them ship their work directly to customers on a thumbdrive inside a special package ready for unboxing. No more impersonal downloads!
The dev console includes settings for shipping apps, an explanation of the value add, and a reminder to sign apps on a piece of paper or electronically to give them more authenticity. Unfortunately, hitting the Save button doesn’t work.
We’re seeing reliable reports that Google is quietly introducing a new AdWords ad format called AdBirds. “With AdBirds, you can take your ads to new heights by letting them literally soar through the skies. That’s right: ads on birds.”
You have six birds (Sparrow, Duck, Owl, Pigeon, Eagle, and Penguin) to choose from, and you add in a little bit of text before setting the bird free into the world, which should then hopefully spread the good word far and wide.
Blockly in Klingon
Google has found that Klingons are finding it challenging to enter Computer Science, reflected in the fact that less than 2 percent of Google engineers are Klingon. Blockly, the company’s programming environment used in K-12 classrooms around the world, now incorporates Klingon cultural norms to facilitate learning in this unique population:
- Blockly has no syntax errors. This reduces frustration, and reduces the number of computers thrown through bulkheads.
- Variables are untyped. Type errors can too easily be perceived as a challenge to the honor of a student’s family (and we’ve seen where that ends).
- Debugging and bug reports have been omitted, our research indicates that in the event of a bug, they prefer the entire program to just blow up.
When it comes to its April Fools’ Day marketing budget, Google seems to have a bottomless pit around this time of year. We’ll continue to update this post as the company launches more jokes.
What about beyond Google? Check out The best tech April Fools’ Day jokes of 2014.
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