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April 1, 2013

Google Nose, YouTube Shutdown Top Google’s April Fools’ Jokes

April 1 is known as one of the most hated days of the year for technology reporters. For one day, innovation and cutting-edge tech mixes with seemingly every fictional idea pranksters can imagine.

One of this year's pranksters is Google, which quietly uploaded a series of videos that provide a look at what "could be" in an alternative universe, all in the service of a good laugh.

Released under Google's official YouTube accounts, the videos boast surprisingly high production value and deliver humorous explanations and examples in line with the style of real Google product announcements. Google Nose does exactly what it sounds like it might: It smells the world around you. Presented as another option on Google's search menu, users are shown holding their mobile devices over various items to allow the software to identify the target scent. The software is also shown blasting whiffs of smell query results to users from some olfactory port near the computer screen that doesn't exist ... yet.

Gmail Blue appears to be Google's not-so-subtle shot across the bow at Microsoft's rumored Windows 8 update called Windows Blue. Gmail Blue gives you everything you've come to love in Gmail, only with a little more blue color. That's it. Just more blue. The one note video might be the most effective of the bunch, harnessing Stephen Colbert-like deadpan earnestness in the selling of the color blue as a Gmail upgrade.



April 1, 2012

April Fools’ Tech Roundup: Kodak Kittens, Gmail Tap, and More!

Kodak Kittens

Enjoying April Fools' Day yet? A day when all legitimate tech reporting grinds to a standstill, for what company would be foolish enough to make a market-changing announcement on a day reserved for jokes and pranks? Worse, it's a Sunday; nobody (save for AT&T and T-Mobile) likes Sundays.

To spare you from having to hunt down the official websites of every product manufacturer or company you care for to see all the craziness they've posted for today, we've gathered up our favorite April Fools' gags below. Use these to fuel your creative spirit as you think of all sorts of methods (or Facebook updates) with which to fool your friends and loved ones.

We've already covered gaming and Google Maps, but Google's 8-bit transformation was but the tip of its April Fools' Day iceberg. The company's since gone on to debut Gmail Tap (Morse code for your email), partnered up with NASCAR to launch autonomous car racing (run for the hills), launched Chrome Multitask Mode (multiple-cursor support), and finally allowed users to search for "subtext and innuendo" via its new Really Advanced Search feature.



March 31, 2012

Google Maps Launches 8-Bit ‘Upgrade’ for April Fools’

Leave it to Google to get the April Fools' party started one day early. One of the company's fun little experiments for tomorrow's day of tech tomfoolery is the addition of a new "8-bit Quest Maps" feature to Google Maps.

But you might want to be careful before you load it up. Google (jokingly) warns that, "Your system may not meet the requirements for 8-bit computations."

Accessing 8-bit Quest Maps is easy: Just fire up your normal Google Maps web app and click on the "Try it now" button on the left-hand menu. Once you do, your default map will transform from the pretty, MapsGL-enhanced view of the world you're used to seeing into a map more akin to something you'd find in the game Dwarf Fortress, or perhaps even SimEarth.

But, in true Google tradition, the 8-bit map isn't just for show. You can still perform the same functions in your "oldschool" map view as you could in your normal Google Map. Driving directions are still available, for example, but it's probably going to be a lot more difficult to discern where the 8-bit roads actually are. Zooming all the way down within 8-bit Maps brings you to the default Google Street View – no pixelated buildings there, alas.

"In our pursuit of new digital frontiers, we realized that we may have left behind a large number of users who couldn't access Google Maps on their classic hardware. Surprisingly, the Nintendo Entertainment System (NES) was unsupported, despite its tremendous popularity with over 60 million units sold worldwide," wrote Google software engineer Tatsuo Nomura on the Google's Lat Long blog.