Every year on April 1st, tech companies around the world take part in the light-hearted holiday of April Fools’ Day. This year was no different, with a range of companies joining in on the pranks. In this article, we’ll be taking a look at some of the best April Fools’ jokes from this year.
One of the biggest pranksters this year was none other than Google, who released ten spoof products in all: Google Gnome, Google Play for Pets, Google Wind, Google Pac-Man Maps, Google Chromebook Accessories, Google Foolproof (for Assistant), Google Cloud on Mars, Google Bubble Wrap, Google Haptic Helpers, and Google Heptapod B for Translate – Whew!
The first prank, Google Play for Pets, is supposed to be a brand new section of Google Play made for pets, which features a large collection of apps and games made entirely for animals. Some of the apps that were advertised include “Treat Academy” to help train dogs and “Mouse Hunter” to keep cats entertained.
On the other side of the world, Google Netherlands announced Google Wind, a collection of “machine-learning windmills” that quite literally blow the cloudy days away. This should be good for people who do a lot of work outside, and so should the Google Gnome, which is a Google Home-esque device to help out in the garden.
Another hardware device that the company is “releasing” is a new line of smartphone-esque accessories for it’s Chromebooks, so that the inexpensive laptops can now also be a fitness tracker, VR headset (like the Google Cardboard), and selfie stick.
Speaking of VR headsets, the company announced that they were rolling out a Geek-Squad like team called Haptic Helpers that will come to you and simulate the sounds, feelings, and smells that go along with what you’re experiencing in VR.
On a different note, Google Translate now has a new language supported, but it’s not one from this planet: It’s Heptapod B, the fictional language from the movie Arrival, and you can use the Word Lens feature to translate it into an earthly language.
On the topic of other planets, the company also announced their plan to open data centers on Mars by next year. And if you felt overwhelmed by all these pranks, Assistant helped you avoid getting fooled by giving you silly tips like “don’t trust relatives” and “only freak out if the fake bug moves.”
Lastly, the 2015 April Fools’ joke to turn any place on Google Maps into a game of Pac-Man was brought back for the day, this time featuring Ms. Pac-Man and a revamped game engine.
Similar to Google Play for Pets, Amazon announced their own product meant for pets: Petlexa. The service is a “feature” of the Amazon Echo which supposedly interprets the sounds that animals make to understand what they actually want. In the spoof commercial, Petlexa tells a hamster on a wheel its step count, orders sushi for a cat, and plays fetch with a dog (an idea many dog owners would love!).
Pet-themed jokes seemed to be popular this year, with Petco announcing DooDoo Drone 3000. Although Petco isn’t exactly a tech company, the drone, which promises to autonomously pick up after your pets, is still a funny tech-themed April Fools’ prank.
Lyft, a company known for it’s large scale April Fools’ jokes, announced a new product dubbed Lyft Mono. The device is a wearable piece of hardware that can be used to summon a ride on Lyft. Users can attach it to their hand, stick out their thumb – as a hitchhiker would – and a ride will be summoned. The crazy thing about this product, however, is that it’s more than just a joke: Lyft actually created and demonstrated a real, working model at a press event in San Francisco. The company currently has no plans to sell the Mono, but it goes to show how invested Lyft is in creating their April Fools’ pranks.
Reddit’s prank this year took the form of the subreddit r/place. For seventy-two hours, the site hosted a massive blank canvas that users would be able to draw on. The catch, though, was that each user could only place a single pixel every five minutes. This joke, like many of the Reddit’s previous ones, was more of a social experiment than just a plain prank. In the end, the resulting image was one that represents the odd, often inscrutable internet culture. The final image can be found here, and a timelapse of the seventy-two hours is here.
Hulu and Netflix both released a spoof feature on their respective platforms. Hulu, poking fun everyone’s increasingly shortened attentions spanned, announced that they would be trimming down the content on their site with a new service they call “Hu.” According the the site, “The human attention span has dropped to eight seconds. Fact. That is less than a goldfish. We are HU. We are TV. The fastest way to watch: current episodes, originals, exclusives, news. Micro content, massive scale. Eight second hits, your quick fix. This is HU we are. HU, goldfish approved.” They even released a few shortened clips from shows such as as Seinfeld or Empire, all trimmed down to exactly eight seconds or less. You can check them out on the Hu website.
Netflix, not to be outdone, released a new original show called “Netflix Live”, showing the Arrested Development star Will Arnett giving live commentary on an office building. Unfortunately, the show has now been canceled, with Netflix releasing this statement: “Netflix Live has been canceled. We miscalculated the number of people who like to binge-watch microwaves. Dave from analytics is in trouble.” Luckily for us, they did give us a short preview at what the show would have been, which you can still watch on the Netflix YouTube channel.
Lastly, Snapchat took a jab at Instagram this year by making parts of their interface appear identical to the latter application. While Instagram and it’s parent company, Facebook, have been copying the features that make Snapchat a hit, Snapchat turned the tables by rolling out a filter that makes Snaps look exactly like an Instagram post.
It’s always fun to see large companies participating in this lighthearted holiday. Even thought April Fools’ Day 2017 is over, the jokes still live on. What was your favorite joke? Do you have any ideas of what these tech companies should do next year? Let us know in the comments!