William Shakespeare once said, “April hath put a spirit of youth in everything.”
I have to agree with the Bard because, every year on April 1st, I feel like a giddy kid on Christmas morning as I hunt down every April Fools prank that the Internet has to offer. And it’s not surprising that Google usually has the best gags.
So, as you are smell searching with Google Nose and finding your home on a treasure map today, I thought I would count down through the most absurd fake services and products—as well as a few I wish were real—that Google has announced on April Fools Day:
Remember when, all of the sudden, every movie that came out had to be in 3D? That obsession is what makes this prank in 2009 so perfect. Google Chrome with 3D let you view web pages in another dimension—and by other dimension, I mean a headache-inducing stereoscopic version—by printing out 3D glasses and changing your browser into 3D mode.
It may have been just a ruse to get more people to download Google Chrome, but it was clever and fun nonetheless.
Finding your soul mate is tough, but like with everything else, the answer to true love is “Google it!” Or, at least, that’s what Google wanted people to believe with their Google Romance prank in 2006. Upload your profile and let Google find the love of your life.
Funnily enough, Google really does have its own wireless internet service now, but in 2007, the company introduced Google TiSP (short for Toilet Internet Service Provider). It supposedly worked by flushing a fiber-optic cable, which is plugged into a router, down your toilet for a dispatcher to connect for wireless access.
I’m betting most of America would still be onboard for free Wi-Fi even if it meant installing a system through the toilet.
As Google expanded to include different apps and features, the April Fools pranks got increasingly more elaborate. In 2008, Google added an “I’m Feeling Lucky” button to its calendar service. If you hit “I’m Feeling Lucky” instead of “Create Event,” the calendar would schedule a date with one of many celebrities, such as Matt Damon, Jessica Alba, Tom Cruise, and Angelina Jolie.
Let’s file this one under “prank features I wish would actually exist.”
So how exactly does Google come up with its search results? (A question that is constantly on our minds at Boostability, for sure.) Well, Google decided to reveal its secret with one of its first pranks back in 2002—PigeonRank.
The company claimed that trained pigeons were determining the relative value of web pages. Unfortunately, the site also says, “While some unscrupulous websites have tried to boost their ranking by including images on their pages of bread crumbs, bird seed and parrots posing in resplendent plumage, Google’s PigeonRank technology cannot be deceived by these techniques.”
So don’t try it.
Google Treasure Maps is pretty amazing, but we still love last year’s Nintendo version of the service. The website claimed that there would be an actual game for the NES console in the near future, but you could enter “Quest Mode” on Google Maps and find 8-bit reproductions of popular landmarks, as well as fun extras like a dragon in the middle of the ocean.
Once YouTube was bought by Google, it was inevitable that the video sharing site would join in on the April Fool’s Day tradition. And, sure enough, YouTube has turned the entire site upside down, used a filter to make videos look like classic silent films, and pulled other pranks. But nothing tops their original prank.
In 2008, each of the featured videos on YouTube redirected to the video for Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up.” It’s the ideal prank: it was simple and unexpected, and as an added bonus, everyone had that song stuck in their head the rest of the day.
We have to give Bing some credit here: their prank this year cleverly bashes their main opponent.
Try searching “Google” in Bing. You will get what is essentially Google’s main page—with a logo for Bing and a button that says “I’m Feeling Confused” rather than “I’m Feeling Lucky.” They could have stopped there, but each annotation on the page is a jab at Google’s use of white space, such as the comment “When there’s nothing else to look at…” which links to videos of watching paint dry.
Google, looks like you might have to do some payback next year.