In the wake of the COVID-19 crisis, Google canceled its now-infamous April Fools' pranks this year. The decision is understandable, but we feel as though in times like these raising a smile is more important than ever. We're taking a look at some of the best jokes, hoaxes, and tricks from the archives!
April Fools' Day has become a tradition for Google, but the Mountain View giant won't be participating in the online trend this year. According to an internal email uncovered by Business Insider, Google will: "take the year off from that tradition out of respect for all those fighting the Covid-19 pandemic. Our highest goal right now is to be helpful to people, so let’s save the jokes for next April, which will undoubtedly be a whole lot brighter than this one."
But that doesn't mean the fun has to stop. There may be no new gags flooding the internet this year, but that gives us the perfect opportunity to take a look back at some of the blasts from the past. Here is our round-up of the best April Fools' pranks that raised a smile from us from previous years.
Google Tulip (2019)
We kick things off with one that many will remember fondly. Last year, Google tried to trick us into thinking it was using machine learning to improve the well-being of flowers. The project, dubbed Google Tulip, was supposed to improve the profitability of Dutch agriculture. "Many people objectify tulips and want to just display them in vases in a way that is disconnected from the roots that supply so much meaning to their lives. At Google, we believe in organizing the world’s information and the information inherent in the root network was appealing to us," said the prank announcement.
Samsung’s Free Fli-Fy pilot scheme (2014)
Back in 2014, Samsung 'launched' it's Fli-Fy Pigeons project. The gag was based around the idea of making the dream of universal free Wi-Fi is a reality, using pigeons. The heart of this 'breakthrough' in Wi-Fi connectivity was said to be a small piece of Samsung technology called a micro-router. Check it out.
OnePlus Warp Car (2019)
OnePlus used April Fools' Day is a smart way last year. This prank was not only about fooling readers, but about promoting its Warp Charge technology. The idea was to capitalize on the e-mobility craze and the rise of Tesla in the pages of tech magazines everywhere with a claim to have invented the fastest-charging electric car in the world. OnePlus claimed its Warp Car could drive from Los Angeles to Las Vegas on a simple 20-minute battery charge, as well as the performance to "accelerate from 0 to 100 km/h while reading this sentence". The design was also suitably futuristic.
Tinder's Height Verification (2019)
"Let’s be real, when it comes to online dating — honesty is the best policy. Yes, your height matters as long as every other shallow aspect of physical attraction does," stated a Tinder press release on April 1, 2019. With a so-called Height Verification Badge (HVB), Tinder was said to put an end to singles over-stating their height only to disappoint potential partners with the reality when they met in real life. The reason? "Only 14.5% of the U.S. male population is actually 6" and beyond," said Tinder. Thankfully for us who don't meet the magic number, the whole thing was just a joke.
Find My Brick from Lego (2019)
Perhaps the April Fools' Day joke that we most wanted to be true came from Lego last year. With the new Find My Brick app, Lego claimed that you'd never have to image through huge piles of Lego looking for individual colored pieces every again. This simple, yet almost believable, app was able to identify pieces from your stash. Unfortunately, the whole thing was a hoax and Lego-builders are still facing this problem.
The Swiss Spaghetti Harvest (1957)
It would be criminal to publish a list of great April Fools' Day pranks without touching on the greatest of all time. Back in the 50s, the British Broadcasting Corporation (BBC) announced the 'virtual elimination of the dreaded spaghetti weevil' thanks to a particularly cold winter on its poplar Panorama show. The result was that Swiss farmers were enjoying a bumper spaghetti crop. The short clip, which you can watch below, fooled millions in the UK, and the BBC phones were ringing constantly with unwitting viewers wanting to know how they grow their own spaghetti at home. The success of this prank earns the Swiss Spaghetti Harvest a place in the April Fools' Day hall of fame forever.
Gmail Motion (2011)
Another beauty of our Mountain View was Gmail Motion in 2011. The innovation was said to allow users to write emails using hand gestures. Thanks to a new "spatial tracking algorithm", a whole new level of communication efficiency was meant to open up. The short clip included instructions on how to reply to a message by pointing backward over your shoulder, among other humorous features.
What are your favorite April Fools' Day pranks from over the years? Share them with us and our community in the comments section below.