April Fools’ Day is upon us, and while companies like Microsoft have told their employees not to participate, Google is as always trying to outdo itself. The company releases all sorts of jokes, ranging from the ridiculously lame to the very clever, spanning the simple blog post or video to the elaborate gag or new feature. It’s a very Google-specific tradition — even other Alphabet companies don’t really participate in the celebration.
Google’s various divisions create more practical and impractical jokes for the holiday than any other tech firm (although the overall number seems to be decreasing), and it’s simply hard to keep track of them all. As such, we have put together our annual roundup — here are all of Google’s April Fools jokes for 2019. (If you’re curious how it compares to previous years, see our roundups for 2018, 2017, 2016, and 2015.)
Snakes in Google Maps
The Google Maps team tends to have the more intricate jokes — usually playable games –and this year it’s a spinoff the classic Snake. You can play Snake in Google Maps in different locations across the world, including Cairo, London, San Francisco, São Paulo, Sydney, and Tokyo. To play, open the Google Maps app for Android or iOS, tap on the menu icon on the top left corner, and hit “Play Snake.” Pick a city, grab as many passengers as you can, and make sure not to hit anything. Snake on Google Maps will be live in the app for about a week, and even has a standalone site that Google says ill stay up “long after April Foolsss is over.”
Gboard Spoon Bending Version
Google Japan also always has a gag or two up its sleeve. This year, the team has added to the Gboard keyboard app with a new device that provides a more comfortable character input environment. The Gboard spoon bending version is all about flexibility: You input characters by bending a spoon. All you have to do is connect the Gboard spoon bending version to your smartphone or computer, bend the spoon, and the corresponding letter to that angle is entered. The less you bend, the closer you are to the beginning to the alphabet, and the more you bend, the closer you are to the end. Even more intriguing, if you bend the spoon with your mind, you’ll enter more characters. The team has released designs, schematics, firmware, and so on, so you can even use a home 3D printer to build your home.
Your Google Home can now talk to tulips (“Hey Google, talk to my tulip.”), thanks to “great advancements in artificial intelligence.” Translation between Tulipish and dozens of human languages means you can finally talk to tulips — they’ll tell you when they need water, light, or more space. Apparently, tulips are not only very chatty, but they’re also great listeners and offer “sound advice.” Google Tulip was largely developed in the Netherlands, a country that produces 12.5 billion flowers a year, and tested in the world-famous flower park Keukenhof. As for the AI part, Google and the Wageningen University & Research built on Neural Machine Translation to map tulip signals to human language. It took two years of training to add Tulipish as a language to Google Home’s recently introduced Interpreter Mode.
In previous years, if you asked Google Assistant about April Fools on the day, it would respond with something along the lines of “We can get through April Fool’s together. Here’s one thing to remember. If something seems too good to be true today, it probably is. This year, it just spits out historical pranks like this one:
Just say “April Fools” to Google Assistant and it will keep spitting out other examples.
When it comes to April Fools’ Day, Google seems to have a bottomless pit for a marketing budget. Will 2019 be the same as previous years? We will update this post as the company launches more jokes.
More to follow