Google Gags Aplenty This April Fool's Day

Dennis Faas's picture

On the first April Fool's Day to fall on a weekend in five years, there was less opportunity to trick people surfing the web at work. But that didn't stop Google from posting a slew of clever and very bogus tech-related stories.

The company unleashed at least seven different gags, many of which were gathered together in a "promotional video". It seems as if Google was using a scattergun approach in the hope that even people who spotted most of the jokes would get caught out by at least one.

Google Maps Gets Major Downgrade

Rather naughtily, Google's first gag came before the day of merriment itself when it launched a special "8-bit" mode on Google Maps. Users looking at a map could see their local area, or any location of their choice, presented as a blocky colorful map reminiscent of the graphics from a mid-1980s video game.

On the day itself, Google "launched" Gmail Tap, billed as a way to type on a smartphone touchscreen using two fingers and without looking at the screen, simply by typing in Morse code. As with all the best tech gags, that one is at least plausible and it wouldn't be a surprise if somebody copied it to make a real-life application. (Source:

Not all the bogus services were quite so practical; a multitasking tool for the Chrome browser would supposedly allow users to control multiple cursors at once to get more done. Another spoof product was the launch of "really advanced search," which allowed users to search using a variety of filters, including subtext and rhyming slang.

Kangaroo Cartographers Among Other Claims

In other claims, Google said:

  • it had launched its own brand of "smart" fiber
  • it would help website developers optimize their site for access from a rotary dial rather than mobile phone
  • it had hired kangaroos to make it easier to get Street View pictures in the Australian Outback
  • and it had extended the data it offered to website owners so they could now see details of the location of website visitors from other planets.

It wasn't just Google itself that brought the jokes, however. YouTube, which Google owns, claimed it was launching a box set of every clip on the entire site on DVD. Were this actually true, at current rates it would take more than 17,000 discs just to hold the content that is uploaded to the site in a single day. (Source:

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