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11 April Fools' Day Jokes From Google

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Don't believe everything you read on April 1—especially if it's coming from Google. The company is notorious for its April Fools' Day pranks and got a head start this year with Google Maps Pac-Man. Here are a few pranks from past years. 

1. Google Maps Pokémon Challenge

Google teamed up with The Pokémon Company and Nintendo to develop an addition to Google Maps that allowed iOS and Android users the option to catch dozens of Pokémon creatures. Users simply had to launch Google Maps, tap "Search," and then "Press Start" next to a blue Pokéball icon to begin the hunt. Pokémon were hidden throughout the entire Google Maps interface.

According to a Google Maps blog posted on March 31, "We value employees who are risk-taking and detail-oriented, have deep technical knowledge, and can navigate through tall grass to capture wild creatures. It turns out that these skills have a lot in common with another profession—that of the Pokémon Master."

2. YouTube Gets "Rickrolled"

On April 1, 2008, all of the featured videos on YouTube UK and Australia took users to the music video for Rick Astley's "Never Gonna Give You Up" instead of the actual featured video. The YouTube "Rickroll" was the first April Fool's Joke YouTube participated in as a Google-owned company.

3. WazeDates

In 2014, Google's GPS-based traffic navigation app Waze announced a partnership with Israeli-based dating software developer SingleSpotter to create WazeDates, which, instead of giving traffic updates, purported to help its users find compatible matches for potential dates. According to Waze's website, the service "alerts drivers to other likely singles on the road nearby. Wazers can adjust preferences to search for drivers based on age, sex, orientation and more. Once a desirable driver is found, users simply invite them to a destination by sharing their ride, or use Map Chat to say hello." Sadly, the whole scheme was nothing but an elaborate April Fool's Day joke—SingleSpotter wasn't even a real company.

4. Google Gulp

On April 1, 2005, Google announced Google Gulp, a new line of "smart" beverages that came in four flavors: Glutamate Grape, Sugar-Free Radical, Beta Carroty, and Sero-Tonic Water. Google Gulp was "designed to maximize your surfing efficiency by making you more intelligent, and less thirsty." It was a limited release beverage and only "available" if you returned a Gulp bottle cap to your local grocery store.

6. AutoAwesome for Resumes

In 2014, Google's April Fools prank was AutoAwesome for Resumes, a web tool that allowed users to spruce up their boring resumes with lively templates, emojis, and animation. Users would simply have to upload their resumes or CV to Google Drive and select hundreds of preset AutoAwesome features and options. The program also matched users with potential new jobs at Google based on their resumes.

4. Google Maps 8-Bit for NES

On April 1, 2012, Google announced a partnership with video game developers Square Enix to create Google Maps 8-bit for the Nintendo Entertainment System. Google Maps 8-bit for NES resembled a side-scrolling role playing game such as The Legend of Zelda and the original Final Fantasy. Instead of receiving a Nintendo cartridge from the Play Store, Google encouraged users to simply go to Google Maps online and click the "Quest" button to get the 8-bit version of the Internet service. The company also joked that a mobile version for the Nintendo GameBoy was in the works, too.

7. The YouTube Collection

In 2012, YouTube announced that it would start shipping the YouTube Collection—every YouTube video ever made on DVD with special comment index cards and green thumbs up stickers to like and red thumbs down stickers to dislike the videos. On the official YouTube Collection site, buyers filled out a Google Form to order the DVD set. After submitting the request, the page read, "Your order has been placed. Due to heavy demand, your anticipated delivery date is: JUNE 16, 2045," followed by, in smaller text, "Also, April Fools."

8. Google Translate for Emoji

Google built Emoji translations into Google Translate for Chrome on Android and iOS. On April 1, 2014, a “Translate to Emoji” option was included on all Chrome browsers, allowing users to convert text into fun symbols and facial expressions. Google's Emojify the Web campaign allowed people to consume Internet content "using efficient and emotive illustrations, instead of cumbersome text."

9. Google Fiber Bar

As Google started to roll out Google Fiber—the company's broadband internet and cable television service—to a number of cities across the United States, it also launched Google Fiber Bar as a way to build awareness of faster Internet speeds and good health. Google Fiber Bar was an energy and protein bar that purported to deliver "what the body needs to sustain activity, energy, and productivity."

“As we started thinking about fiber,” said Kevin Lo, General Manager of Google Access, “we realized that there hadn’t been real innovation in the fiber world in a very long time.” The bars weren't real, of course.

10. Google Nose

On April 1, 2013, Google announced Google Nose BETA for Chrome and Android, a web service that supposedly allowed users to search for specific smells and scents across Google's search index. Google claimed to use an advanced algorithm to recreate the smell and deliver the scent through the user's computer or mobile device.

11. Gmail Blue

On April 1, 2013, Google announced Gmail Blue, which made everything about Gmail...blue.

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The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
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Jeff Bezos Is Helping to Build a Clock Meant to Keep Time for 10,000 Years
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo
The Long Now Foundation, Vimeo

Few human inventions are meant to last hundreds of years, much less thousands. But the 10,000 Year Clock is designed to keep accurate time for millennia. First proposed in 1989, the long-lasting timepiece is finally being installed inside a mountain in western Texas, according to CNET.

The organization building the clock, the Long Now Foundation, wanted to create a tribute to thinking about the future. Founded by computer scientist Danny Hillis and Whole Earth Catalog publisher Stewart Brand, the group boasts famous members like musician Brian Eno and numerous Silicon Valley heavyweights. Amazon founder Jeff Bezos is putting up the $42 million necessary to complete the project, writing that “it's a special Clock, designed to be a symbol, an icon for long-term thinking."

Measuring 500 feet tall when it's completed, the clock will run on thermal power and synchronize each day at solar noon. Every day, a “chime generator” will come up with a different sequence of rings, never repeating a sequence day to day. On specific anniversaries—one year, 10 years, 100 years, 1000 years, 10,000 years—it will animate a mechanical system within one of five rooms carved into the mountain. On the first anniversary, for instance, the clock will animate an orrery, a model of the solar system. Since they don’t expect to be alive for many of the future anniversaries, the clock’s creators won't determine animations for 100, 1000, or 10,000 years—that'll be left up to future generations. (To give you an idea of just how far away 10,000 years is, in 8000 B.C.E., humans had just started to domesticate cows for the first time.)

Though you can sign up to be notified when the clock is finished, it won’t be easy to see it up close. The nearest airport is several hours’ drive away, and the mountain is 2000 feet above the valley floor. So you may have to be content with seeing it virtually in the video below.

Clock of the Long Now - Installation Begins from The Long Now Foundation on Vimeo.

[h/t CNET]

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Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images
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Love Gordon Ramsay's Sick Kitchen Burns? Try His Insult-Loving Alexa App
Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images
Stephane De Sakutin/AFP/Getty Images

You can now invite Gordan Ramsay into your kitchen to evaluate your cooking. Or his voice, at least. Amazon Alexa’s new Gordon Ramsay skill features audio critiques from the notoriously foul-mouthed celebrity chef.

The interactive app was developed by the audio company Ground Control, which also produces podcasts like the former vice president’s news show, Biden’s Briefing, and various other Amazon Alexa skills.

For better or for worse, the Gordon Ramsay skill’s canned audio doesn’t actually require you to cook anything, as I found out when I decided to try it out on my own device at home. I was too busy (read: lazy) to actually whip up a dish, and decided to fool good ol’ Gordon instead.

“Alexa, ask Gordon Ramsay what he thinks of my lasagna,” I shout from my couch, take-out curry in my hands.

“The stench of your cooking violates the Clean Act,” he tells me. Rude! At one point, he calls me a doughnut. Somehow, this isn't a compliment. “I’ve seen better food in my dog’s food bowl,” he complains.

I try to take a different tack. “Alexa, ask Gordon Ramsay what I should cook for dinner.” Unfortunately, the chef has no suggestions—he only provides insults, not ideas. You have to ask something in the vein of “Critique my beef bourguignon,” or “Are my cookies bad?” (The answer is always yes, and probably will be bleeped.)

The virtual Ramsay will also get impatient if you don’t tell him to stop or ask him to judge another dish. “Wakey wakey,” he chides me when I don’t respond to his last sick burn. "Give me a f***ing question!" he yells at another point. If you want him to go away, you’ll have to speak up. “Stop!” I finally protest. Alexa asks me if I’d like to share my experience with my friends. No thank you!

“Try again tomorrow,” Ramsay signs off. “Hopefully by then, you’ll have learned how to cook.” Somehow, I doubt he'll like my lasagna any more than he does now.

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