Each April 1, the likes of Google, Microsoft, Twitter and dozens of other tech companies deliver a flood of gags to the Web. This year, there’s plenty to make you laugh, from Nintendo-infused mobile maps to a couple of ways to capitalize on the selfie craze.
Here are the best April Fools’ Day jokes we’ve seen this year. Find any others? Let us know about the pranks we missed down in the comments.
Google Maps Pokemon Challenge
If you grew up at the back end of the ’90s, you’ll love this Google Maps update.
In the Google Maps apps on both Android and iOS, users can now “collect” Pokemon monsters hidden all over the world. Some 150 different Pokemon are available in Google Maps. It all works fairly simply, just tap in the search bar at the top of Google Maps, and you’ll see a Pokemon icon that will take you to the Pokemon Lab—located in Google’s Mountain View, Calif., headquarters, of course.
Once you’re there, you’ll see Pokemon appear on screen. Just tap them and you’ll get a prompt to “capture” the monster. A built in “Pokedex” tells you what monsters you’ve found and which you still need to find. The video below takes things a bit further, depicting two things that sadly don’t exist: an amazing “Pokemon Challenge” augmented reality app, and a competition for a job at Google as “Pokemon Master.”
Go ahead, press play and relive childhood.
With pop culture at Peak Selfie, Google is asking what’s next. Its answer: the “shelfie.”
Google has always allowed Gmail users to make any image their inbox background, but a new update allows anyone to make that wallpaper a selfie. Just upload an image or snap a photo with Gmail’s new built-in selfie camera app, and then share that selfie with the world (as long as that means via email or Google+).
Once you share your selfie, it becomes a shared selfie, or shelfie.
Another selfie-centered joke is the SelfieBot by Orbitox—a white, plastic drone that hovers near you, watching and waiting for the right moment to snap a photo of you.
Orbotix, which makes the Sphero toy ball that rolls around on the ground and can be controlled by your smartphone, teases the Selfiebot with an advertisement that starts our charmingly—and ends on a creepy note.
Watch it below to see what we’re talking about.
Stop wasting energy navigating the message boards of Reddit with that old hand and mouse. Use your head. Don’t like what you are reading, down-vote it with a frown. Yes, a frownvote.
Clippy Returns to Office
Before there was Siri, the definition of a modern digital assistant, we had Clippy—the much maligned helper built into Microsoft Office for Windows from 1997 to 2003. Now, for April Fools’ Day, more than a decade after he was forced into exile, Microsoft is trolling the Web by bringing him back on Office.com. To see him (but why would you want to?) just open up any Word, Excel or PowerPoint document on Office.com—he’ll pop up in the right-hand corner, his gigantic eyes blinking under a pale yellow speech bubble of annoyance. Watch long enough, and he starts to contort himself, just like in the old days.
Emoji Translation in Chrome
Chrome on iOS and Android is available in yet another language, if you can call it that: Emoji. Google Translate on mobile Chrome has been updated today to take the text of almost any webpage (as long as it’s in English) and turn it into emojis—those adorable little icons that your teenager (and admit it, you too) loves to use in place of actual words. To see this for yourself, just open up a webpage in Chrome, tap the menu icon to the right of the URL bar, and select “translate to emoji.”
Tumblr — Tumblr Pro
Tumblr pranked a lot of its young userbase after it added a button to allow users to upgrade to ‘Tumblr Pro’ on its microblogging service.
Clicking to upgrade to the free service, users are shown a video designed to inspire creativity within… and are ultimately rewarded only with a hat for their avatar.
iFixit — Acquired by Apple
This iFixit press release about being acquired by Apple made us smile, but it also succeeded in fooling some tech press.
Flipboard — Flappy Board
Flipboard spared us the pain of reading through yet more forced humor, and offered five minutes of fun with Flappy Board, the socialreader company’s “first foray into video games”.
There’s are a tonne of Flappy Bird clones out there, but this one is actually pretty tricky if you play from a desktop as I did.