Google has long history of trying to play April Fools' pranks on their users, and this year was no different with hoaxes across a wide range of their services. Here's a round-up of all Google's tricks that we've found so far, if you see any others from them then please let us know in the comments.
- Renaming as Topeka - Following the decision of the city of Topeka in Kansas, USA, to change its name to Google during the month of March just passed, Google decided to reciprocate by announcing that it was to change its name to Topeka. In a post on the company blog, Google Topeka CEO Eric Schmidt said, "We didn’t reach this decision lightly; after all, we had a fair amount of brand equity tied up in our old name."
- Google Translate for Animals - The release of a new Android app attempts to "bridge the gap between animals and humans" and offers a new way to communicate with your favourite pet. Simply choose from a selection of animals, record the noises it makes, and the application will provide you a transcript of what they were trying to say.
- YouTube "TEXTp" option - In an attempt to reduce their bandwidth costs, some videos on YouTube now has a "TEXTp" quality setting that will apply an ASCII-text like filter to the video, saving YouTube $1 for every second of video played like this. According to the YouTube blog, "By replacing the images in the video with a series of letters and numbers, the videos are far less taxing on our system," and you can try it out with this example video.
- Google Wave wave notifications - Google Wave has a new way of notifying you when someone responds to or changes your Wave, with real world wave notifications. The Google Wave blog notes that there are still issues with the system, and that "Genuine greetings may be confused for notifications."
- Store anything with Google Docs - In an attempts to make it easier to find and share things, Google Docs now allows you to upload anything from the physical world. Their blog states that you can now "Store your keys, remotes, rail passes, and other objects you commonly lose with Google Docs, and you'll never have to worry about finding them again." It's priced at just $0.10 per kilogram.
- Standard Voicemail for Google Voice - The new Standard Voicemail Mode on Google Voice brings back those old features of traditional voicemail that you'll know and love hate, including automatic message deletion after 14 days.
- Chrome Sounds - A new plugin for Google's Chrome browser that creates a "more magical and immersive experience" when surfing the Internet. The Chrome team say that, "we’ve spent the past few months deep in psychoacoustic models, the Whittaker-Nyquist-Kotelnikov-Shannon sampling theorem, Franssen effects, Shepard-Risset Tones, and 11.1 surround sound research to build a cutting-edge audio-driven user interface for our users." The extension gives audio feedback as you use the browser.
- LifeSize - Picasa's latest feature allows you to print "life-size cardboard cut-outs" with any of your photos.
- Japanese keyboard - Google Japan has created a new keyboard, with plenty of keys!
- Different search time units - When making a search, the space that normally tells you how many seconds the search took to process has been filled with various other units of measure, from hertz to shakes of a lamb's tail.
Updated (2/4/2010) with the following., thanks for our readers for posting these in the comments:
- Street View in 3D - A new option on Google's Maps offers Street View in anachrome 3D. Simply click the icon of the Street View man wearing 3D glasses and a red and cyan offset will be applied to the street, allowing you to see it in 3D if you are wearing glasses with red and cyan filters. Thanks to Inklin for the tip.
- Gmail "vowel outage" - Gmail experienced what it described as a "temporary vowel outage" meaning that they were unable to display vowels in the words on their homepage. Initial theories that the letter 'y' would be impacted were proved false. Thanks to MindTrickz for the tip.
- Evil bit - Google's AJAX APIs added an "evil bit" giving you "a new way for you to identify your request as harmful" if you were planning to use the results for "nefarious purposes". Simply add a &evil=true parameter to your request to let them know. Thanks to Firethorne for the tip.
- Google Books in 3D - Similar to the 3D option in Street View, this allows you to see books in 3D. Click the "View in 3D" option, put on your red-cyan glasses, and the anaglyph image will let you read in 3D. Thanks to MightyJordan for the tip.