While many theories exist about its origin, April Fools’ Day is nevertheless observed all over the world. What added to its popularity were the at times plausible and at times outlandish pranks played by popular media to hoodwink their viewers. And these weren’t any spur of the moment inane pranks, but well-thought and elaborate pranks. The tradition has made its way to the virtual world as well and almost every tech brand and site come up with an obligatory prank. Here's a look at some of the pranks this year.
Google has sort of made April Fools’ Day a tradition and unfailingly comes-up with a plethora of gags each year. Last year, it came up with Really Advanced Search, Google Racing, Google Maps in 8-bit for Nintendo, Google Tap with Morse code, and much more. This year Google has unleashed a smattering of April Fools’ gags. The best one we like is Google Nose; yes, the search giant now allows you to take a whiff of your query. Because “Smelling is Believing”, it says—the Google Aromabase has 15M+ scentibytes. Along with the smell, it also brings you expertly curated knowledge to describe the aromas. How it works? You will have to take your nose close to the monitor to be able to smell, simple, really. Try smelling April Fools’ Day; the smell is described as immature and cheesy, with a quick, bright finish.
Find treasure using Google Maps
Care for some hidden treasure? Then head to Google Maps, which now features a 2D hand-drawn map with landmarks and hidden treasure chests. So you have three choices now – Earth, Satellite and Treasure. Before you begin your treasure hunt, Google has a word of caution; it warns you that it won’t be able to provide higher resolution than paper print and it also wants you to be careful when unfolding the map to avoid ripping. Unfortunately, there doesn’t seem to be much treasure hidden in India.
Google+ too has something for you this April Fools’ Day. It’s got an algorithm that will automatically add the right emoticon to your Google+ picture, based on the facial expressions. Suitably called +Emotion, it’s said to “plumb the emotional depths of everyone in the photo, then summarise their feelings with a beautifully crafted, emotion icon”. Well, this is one feature that many would like to have. After you are done with moping about the lack of +Emotion on Google+ head over to Gmail Blue, which according to the official video, took six years to achieve. Inspired by nature, oceans and the sky, well, it’s simply blue. Yes, everything is blue in the new Gmail Blue, right from the compose button to the font colours.
And if you thought that was all Google has to offer, then there’s more. If you are a Google Analytics user, then don’t be alarmed by the visitors from the “International Space Station – Control Room” when checking real time stats for your site. And interestingly, the number of visitors from the space station is 41, which when read as date format followed in US will be April 1.
Last year on the eve of April Fools’ Day, YouTube came up with the YouTube Collection, the option to have your favourite videos delivered at your doorstep on DVD’s. Well, this year it tried to scare its millions of users by announcing that the service will be shutting down. The video has the founders revealing how the service was started eight years ago to find the best video ever and now the time had come to find the winner. The winner by the way will be announced when the site goes online again after ten years in 2023.
Move over Google Glasses, make way for The Guardian Goggles
Augmented reality-based goggles seem to be the rage these days, and following the buzz generated by Google Glasses, UK-based newspaper, The Guardian, thought it was only apt to launch its very own goggles on April Fools’ Day. The Guardian Goggles will offer immersive liberal insight to its readers. The wearers will get real-time information of their surroundings in the form of curated opinions from the paper’s reporters, critics and commentators. So you will know if a particular restaurant is worth visiting thanks to the reviews. And Guardian has also taken care to add an optional anti-bigotry technology that will prevent exposure to non-Guardian opinions by blacking out columns by reporters from other media houses.
Eco Trees from Samsung
Samsung cares for the environment
Samsung Electronics has come-up with SMART Eco Trees. Yes, concerned for the environment, Seoul-based tech giant has launched Eco Trees that are actually air-purifiers and what’s more, they utilise solar energy. Apart from taking in CO2 and releasing oxygen, the trees also use a natural filtering system to eliminate pollutants. Additionally, it will also keep the humidity at a pleasant level, provide fragrance, cool the surroundings, amongst others. You also have the evolution kits, S-eeds for SMART sharing and accessories like swing. You can also choose the colour of the leaves. And if you don’t have a backyard to house the tree, then fret not, as you can go for the “mini” version that's suited for indoors. But to cut them some slack, the guys at Samsung knew they were going a little too overboard with it and knew that people won’t fall for the gag, so they smartly put in information about their sustainability initiatives and in the end, admitted that they didn’t think they had fooled anyone.
Nokia 5AM-TH1N6 Microwave
Nokia to manufacture micorwaves?
Ok, now we know that the Finnish smartphone manufacturer is trying really hard to stay in the smartphone race. But to launch a microwave?! Desperate times call for desperate measures, eh? The Nokia 5AM-TH1N6 Constellation Microwave that has been grabbing headlines is Nokia’s April Fools’ Day prank. Curiously, the microwave looks very much like the Lumia that has been stretched. Needless to say, the microwave will feature a touchscreen and its water-cooled, 8-core high-voltage transformer will bring 5,000 watts to consumers, which will heat up food within seconds. It also includes some fascinating features like eye-tracking technology that will stop the food from rotating when you look at it. And the best part is that it will automatically adjust the temperature depending on how hungry you look. How thoughtful indeed! And much to the delight of the fans of Nokia PureView, the microwave features a high-resolution PureFood camera that will automatically share pictures of ready meals via social networking sites.
Twttr or Twitter, vowel-less
The micro blogging site joined the fray as it came-up with an April Fools’ prank. The 140-words dikkat of the site has posed a challenge to many users and Twitter decided to spice it up even more. On its official blog, it announced that starting today the site was shifting to two-tiered service. Those using the basic service Twttr can use only consonants to express their views. That’s right, the rationale, it explained, was to encourage a more efficient and dense form of communication. So y wll hv t bd gdb t vwls, and if this seems too much of a task for you, then Twitter has also built a site to automatically transform your Tweets into a Twttr friendly format. And if you do not wish to let go of vowels, then you will have to opt for the premium Twitter service at five dollars a month.
While these are some of April Fools’ Day pranks this year, let’s take a look at some of the classic April Fools’ pranks.
BBC – Spaghetti Crop
BBC has gained quite a reputation by coming up with some of the brilliant April Fools' pranks and, by far, the best has been about bumper Spaghetti crop in Switzerland. On April 1, 1957, a news show on BBC, named Panorama, ran a report with a video footage showing Swiss farmers plucking strands of Spaghetti from trees. Large numbers of viewers were fooled and BBC was flooded with phone calls inquiring about how they could go about planting a spaghetti tree. And apparently, they were advised to plant a strand of spaghetti in a tin of tomato sauce!
If you think people would have wised up over the years, then think again. In 2008, BBC was at it again when it announced that the camera crew of its natural history series “Miracles of Evolution” had filmed flying penguins near Antarctic. The video showed penguins taking flight and it went on to become the most viewed video on the Internet. BBC claimed that the penguins flew thousands of miles to tropical South America to escape the harsh Antarctic winters.
Sveriges Television – Convert your B/W TV into colour
Another notable instance of April Fools' Day hoax comes from Sweden. In 1962, SVT (Sveriges Television), Sweden’s only television channel, decided to pull a fast one. They had their technical expert demonstrate how they could, with the help of a fine-meshed screen covering the TV screen, turn it from black-and-white to colour. And surprisingly, a nylon stocking can also do the trick. Kjell Stensson, the technical expert, also cautioned the viewers that they were required to maintain correct distance from the screen and move their head back and forth, very carefully, in order to align the colour spectrum.
Guardian tabloid – Look we “font” a nation
That's the “font” nation (Image credit)
Then in 1977, The Guardian, successfully managed to capture readers' imagination by publishing a whopping seven-page special report about San Serriffe, a nation located in the Indian Ocean with several semicolon-shaped islands. Its two primary islands were named Upper Caisse and Lower Caisse, while its capital was Bodoni and its leader was General Pica. Of course, the readers wanted to know more about this supposedly idyllic holiday destination and failed to notice that, curiously, everything about the island had reference to typography.
Tel us which one is your favourite April Fools’ Day prank.
Cover image: Harshad Gujare
Publish date: April 1, 2013 7:05 pm| Modified date: December 19, 2013 10:43 am