April Fools’ Day is upon us, and like every year, Google is trying to outdo itself once again. The company’s various divisions always create more practical and impractical jokes than any other tech firm, and it’s simply hard to keep track of them all. As a result, I’m doing my usual annual roundup.
Head over to com.google. Yes, that’s right: Not google.com but com.google.
Sadly this only works for com; Google clearly had a lot of time to waste, but it didn’t want to replicate this for every single domain.
Play Pac-Man in Google Maps
Google Maps on desktop and mobile now has a Pac-Man mode. Fire up Google Maps, look at the clues, and search for a place you think Pac-Man might be. Alternatively, you can just navigate to a place on the map where you want to start your game and click Pac-Man in the bottom left. The streets are your maze, while Blinky, Pinky, Inky, and Clyde are your enemies.
While this wasn’t the first joke this year, it was probably the first one to be picked up widely, because it’s simply so cool. As we noted on GamesBeat, you can finally unleash Pac-Man on the streets you travel every day.
Play Pac-Man in Ingress
What many haven’t spotted is that Google’s augmented reality game, Ingress for Android and iOS, has also gained some Pac-Man gaming additions. Remember to yell a lot as you run around your neighborhood.
The video’s description doesn’t reveal anything else. It just includes the typical Ingress description: “This world around you is not what it seems. Our future is at stake, and you must choose a side.”
Chrome on mobile now lets you take a selfie as a reaction to what you’re currently browsing. Just open up the menu, choose “Share a reaction,” and let your friends know how that link makes you feel.
Google says it takes a lot of time and hassle to exit Chrome, open the camera, and snap a pic just to react to everything they see online — most Chrome users lose up to 6 hours of selfie-taking time every day. No more!
“From the very beginning, Google has always been about search,” the executive said. “From desktop search, to mobile search, and now voice search. What we’re about to do is take a leap to a world where people don’t even need to search at all. A product that is so brilliant that you can ask it anything, but so cute that you will want to hug it.”
Google Japan’s hands-free input device
The Piro-piro (party-horn) uses an infrared sensor to measure the length of how far you blow, and sends the corresponding letter to your device via Bluetooth. It even has its own brilliant short url: g.co/___o.
Google Maps warns Australia will be in the Northern Hemisphere by 2055
Google Maps engineers in Sydney have warned that Australia is on its way to becoming a Northern Hemisphere country by 2055. These engineers constantly reassess the Earth’s geospatial data in relation to other objects in the solar system, and in the past two months, they found that the Earth’s equator is slipping south at a rate of 25km per year.
“Movements in the equator are caused by changes in the Earth’s tilt, called Milankovitch cycles,” Google explained. “A degree of movement is not unexpected but the speed of this movement has alarmed scientists, who have expressed concerns about the impact on migratory birds.”
Smartbox by Inbox
First there was Inbox by Gmail. Now there’s Smartbox by Inbox.
Think of Smartbox as Google’s attempt to reinvent physical mail. It has smart folders, filters, and even apps. Oh, and you can take Smartbox with you, wherever you go.
Google Fiber’s dial-up mode
Google Fiber has launched a dial-up mode. “Loading bars used to give people an opportunity to pause and take care of the little things — like making a cup of coffee, taking a bathroom break or playing with the dog.”
The company said it was able to reduce Fiber speeds up to 376 times “by withholding photons from the fiber strands” so that “the light-based fiber optic technology dims to a flicker of its previous capacity.” Users complained that they wanted their loading time back. Google, once again, delivered.
Google has a Chromebook self-browsing extension. You can download it now from the Chrome Web Store.
“Google’s top research scientists have calculated that the average person burns up to five calories per day by clicking on web links,” Google said. “This is absurd — these calories could be put to much better use for breathing, pranking a co-worker, or cleaning your bathtub.” We agree with only one of the three.
Google Actual Cloud platform
Google asks: Why isn’t cloud computing built in actual clouds? Now it is.
New features include a new compute zone, actual-cloud machine types, Stormboost, CloudDrops, weather dashboards, and bare-metal container support. Should we change the term to clouds computing?
YouTube’s Add Music
YouTube now lets you add music to a video. More specifically, you can override Darude’s Sandstorm onto whatever you’re currently watching on YouTube. Even YouTube search results include suggestions to play the song.
There’s also an Auto-Darude option in the settings, which will result in only playing Sandstorm for all videos. In case you’re wondering, yes, the screenshot above is indeed Darude’s Sandstorm being added to Darude’s Sandstorm.
Italy channel swap
It’s probably amusing if you speak Italian and you use YouTube quite a bit. To be honest, we wish YouTube had done this globally, language barriers be damned.
When it comes to April Fools’ Day, Google seems to have a bottomless pit for a marketing budget. We will update this post as the company launches more jokes.