April 1, 2013
Hi-Tech April Tomfoolery From The Pranksters At Google, Twitter And Hulu
Michael Harper for redOrbit.com — Your Universe Online
There´s a long-standing tradition of fun and hijinks on the Internet. This is doubly true on April 1 of each year, when many companies compete in an unspoken competition to determine who can create the most outlandish or most believable press releases or product announcements. This year has been no exception, with some notable efforts from Hulu, Twitter and, of course, Google.
For instance, Google Maps has rolled out Treasure Mode. Today, when you navigate to maps.google.com, you´ll find an invitation in the bottom left corner to “Start Treasure Hunting.” This mode turns the map into an old world-style map which, according to Google´s Map team was discovered while the Street View team was busy capturing some underwater shots. In an introductory video, members of the Maps team ask for help deciphering pieces of the map by pointing your device at the sun, piecing together pieces of the map with multiple devices, or putting your device over an open flame.
You probably shouldn´t put your device over an open flame.
Street View in Treasure Map Mode also got a bit of tweaking for the day: the view now has a vignette effect, as if viewed through an old mariner´s telescope.
Google also “announced” Google Nose, a “Beta” service which allows users to ask Google what different things smell like.
Users wanting to try the latest “scentsation” (their pun, not ours) are asked to first search for a smell, then place their devices up to their face and take a big whiff. Laptop and desktop users are asked to put their faces in between the screen and keyboard. The company boasts an aroma base of 15 million scentibytes, though rumor has it their iOS app has been rejected for containing offensive material.
Google´s YouTube is also getting in on the fun, claiming today that the past eight years have been one giant competition for the best video uploaded. According to a blog post, YouTube will shut their site down tonight and begin a ten-year deliberation process to select the best video.
It would be very interesting to know how much money Google spent on videos alone for their fictitious April Fool´s gags. Each of the aforementioned pranks have accompanying videos that are produced well enough to persuade anyone gullible enough to forget today´s date. These videos can´t be cheap.
Twitter has also gotten in on the prankery today, announcing a two-tiered service and reviving the company´s original name, “Twttr.”
And in an effort to further capitalize on their microblogging service, Twitter will allegedly begin charging users five bucks a month for the right to use vowels in their tweets.
Free users are stuck with only consonants, a move which Twitter claims will help “encourage a more efficient and ℠dense´ form of communication.”
Twitter also took the opportunity to let the world finally know where they stand on the letter “Y.” According to the popular microblogging service, Y should be considered a consonant and therefore it´s available to all for free. For those wanting to get comfortable with this new way of tweeting, Twitter rolled out a new site to convert old and correctly spelled tweets into incomprehensible abominations.
Finally, Hulu has gone meta with their April tomfoolery by announcing that several fictional shows from other real shows (such as “Itchy and Scratchy” from the Simpsons or “Ya Heard? with Perd” from Parks and Recreation) are now available for streaming.
Though April Fools jokes no longer surprise anyone familiar with the Internet, it´s always fun to see what clever thing companies have dreamt up each year.