Tech companies like to get into April Fool’s day – those whimsical titans of capitalism – and nobody gets into it in a bigger way than Google, which rolls out a solid handful of gags every year, some of which are even interactive.
This year is no exception, as the search titan deploys its finest humor modules to delight us for a day before going back to trying to manage all the information on earth in a totally non-creepy way.
Here’s our official, expert judgment on Google’s 2017 April Fool’s jokes:
1. Google Wind
Repurposing Holland’s famous windmills to act as weather controllers, guided by (naturally) the sophisticated Google Cloud Platform is a funny idea, and the video is both convincingly acted and well-produced. I particularly liked the kid in the swing.
Grade: A. Goed werk, Google.
2. Ms. Pac-Man on Google Maps
It’s still fun, without question, but Google did this back in 2015, letting you play any given slice of Google Maps as Pac-Man. Given that I’m lousy at Pac-Man and I was able to win a round based on my neighborhood, it seems like it’s not that challenging, or maybe my particular part of Brighton lends itself to simple Pac-Manning. (Idea – Peyton Manning as Pac-Man. Pac-Manning.)
To try it out yourself, just go to Google Maps and click the “insert coin” button in the bottom left.
Grade: B-. It’s fun, but come on, something new, please.
3. Google Gnome
First of all, that’s a great name, although once you see this thing you’ll wonder whether Travelocity’s lawyers are working this weekend. It’s Google Home for the outdoors, so you can ask it to do things like turn on a hose, tell you about the weather, or, well, you can probably just watch it:
Despite his protestations, this is all absolutely the fault of Verge editor Dieter Bohn, who tweeted a Google Gnome joke a couple weeks ago and prompted this strange dosage of Google-powered strangeness to enter all of our lives, and I will hear no evidence to the contrary. The gnome laughing when being bothered by the dog was unsettling, since we’re not used to hearing the automated voices of the Siris and Alexas of the world laugh.
Grade: A-. It’s silly, but that’s a good name and this was authentically weird in a way that even Google’s better pranks frequently aren’t.
4. Google VR Haptic Helpers
One of the main stumbling blocks on the road to turning VR into a Star Trek holodeck is the senses that aren’t sight and hearing. Google is attempting to address the rest of them with the Haptic Helper program, which is awesome.
This is the most realistic solution yet to the problem of how to broaden VR experiences, frankly, and these multi-sensory Foley artists are laudable. Plus, there’s just something about a serious-looking guy determinedly wafting perfume into a VR user’s face that is impossible not to enjoy.
The application I’d like to see is for the VR version of visiting Yankee Stadium, where a guy drives to your house, takes too much money out of your pocket, and calls you horrible names for wearing a Red Sox hat.
Grade: A. I’m still laughing at the guy making fried eggs.
Google Cloud Platform will open a data center on the red planet, to better serve the needs of Martians and offer its IaaS product to users beyond the skies of Earth.
“By opening a dedicated extraterrestrial cloud region, we're bringing the power of Google’s compute, network, and storage to the rest of the solar system, unlocking a plethora of possibilities for astronomy research, exploration of Martian natural resources and interplanetary life sciences,” said the Cloud Platform team in an official blog post.
The company even lets you walk around inside its fictional Martian data center via Street View, which is fun.
Grade: B. It’s well-executed, but the core concept just wasn’t all that screamingly funny.
6. Google Play for Pets
Even though animals have been known to play with tablets and phones already, Google is upping the ante with Google Play for Pets, so you don’t feel bad about leaving your furry friend at home with nothing to do while you go to work.
Sadly, the pets section of the Play Store doesn’t appear to be available to me at the moment, so any nearby animals are going to have to amuse themselves the old-fashioned way, but Play for Pets promises “thousands of games, apps, and training tools,” along with notifications so you can follow Bitsy’s progress chasing digital mice, and even match your pets up to see which is the champion of a certain game.
Grade: B-. It’s a cute video, but it feels unfinished.