As the internet gets flooded with April Fools’ Day jokes — good or lame — it can be hard to keep track of the ones that are worthy of your attention. Google, in particular, is known for rolling out a ton of different pranks. Most of them are actually pretty fun since they are localized to each Google product or regional team.
Here’s a look at what we’ve found out there this year.
The ability to play Pac-Man on Google Maps isn’t exactly new — the team released the same joke back in 2015 — but perhaps it’s done so again because of how popular it was when it first came around. Obviously, the only way to roll out Pac-Maps: The Sequel is to do it with Ms. Pac-Man.
Dieter Bohn is having a bit of a crisis over here, seeing as two weeks ago, he tweeted a pun that turned into this year’s Google Home April Fools’ joke. It’s a smart gnome for your lawn that can tell you the direction of the wind and inform your child that all living things decompose. Isn’t it a joy?
New must-have Chromebook accessories
Google is rolling out a new line of accessories for Chromebooks that finally turn them into the do-everything, inexpensive dream laptops we’ve been waiting for. Now your Chromebook can double as a fitness tracker thanks to the Chromebook Workout Armband, or become a window into the world of VR. And the Chromebook Flip was definitely lacking a selfie stick. (Surely a Google Pixel took the below photo with all that lens flare, no?)
If you ask your Google Assistant about April Fools’ Day, it will reply with some silly advice like “don’t trust your relatives” or to remain skeptical of whatever appears to be unusual. Mostly this seems like a way for Google to showcase Assistant’s “personality.”
Google Cloud puts a data center on Mars
Google’s “plan” to open a data center on the surface of the Red Planet next year seems ever so slightly improbable. And to think, the Ziggy Stardust data center was all a strike of luck and “started as a 20 percent project with the Google Planets team, which mapped Mars and other bodies in space and found a suitable location.” You’ve got the option of storing your data exclusively on Mars — outside the jurisdiction of the prying NSA. But Google is planning some planet-to-planet data redundancy.
Even if Earth experiences another asteroid strike like the one that wiped out the dinosaurs, your cat videos, selfies and other data will still be safe. Of course, we'll also store all public domain scientific data, history and arts free of charge so that the next global catastrophe doesn't send humanity back into the dark ages.
To shoo away clouds from raining on Western Europe’s parade, the local team in The Netherlands unveiled Google Wind, a series of “machine learning” windmills that can blow away cloudy skies for another day. In the past, many of Google Cloud Platform’s April Fools’ jokes have been literal cloud-themed.
Google Bubble Wrap Keyboard
From the Google Japan team who brought you Google Kazoo, every year the local Input Tools team devises a new form factor for keyboards. This year, it’s bubble wrap (or Puchi Puchi, in Japanese). The concept machine lets you push the bubble wrap around for letters you need to form sentences, then feed it through a reader to send your message. Some even have scented air filled in the bubbles so you can smell the sea breeze from Hawaii as you pop each pocket.
Google Play for Pets
For when video feeders aren’t enough, Google is introducing Google Play for Pets. “After all, who wouldn’t want apps, games, and training tools designed specially for your dog, cat or... turtle?” Plus, there are new “I’m feeling woof” and “I’m feeling meow” quick searches to get your pets the content they need — fat.
Google’s late-in-the-day prank is for the VR crowd. Haptic Helpers is a Geek Squad-style team that will go to your house and help simulate aromas, tastes, and physical sensations to go along with the manufactured audio and visual stimuli. Because what VR really needs to take off is someone wafting a pungent cheese in your face while you virtually visit Paris or holding a blow dryer in front of you while you drive.
Google Translate now understands the alien language from Arrival
Heptapod B is the latest language supported by the amazing Word Lens feature in Google Translate, which immediately translates text captured with your phone’s camera.
So whether the world’s fate hangs in the balance, or if you’re simply trying to discern whether your coffee stain ring means something, we wish you success as you integrate this tool into the story of your life.
April Fools’ Day is still getting started in many parts of the world (yes, I know, sigh) so check back soon as we continue updating this post. Better yet, if you see any that we’ve missed, feel free to tip us at firstname.lastname@example.org.