Not to alarm you, but the world has turned upside down since you went to bed last night. Barack Obama has been replaced with a small child. Social network Twitter is now charging you to use it. And YouTube is about to shut down now that it’s ready to pick its winner.
None of it is real, of course – they’re all April Fools jokes from around the Internet. Each year, the Internet’s largest sites all have a little fun, pulling pranks and making fake announcements for weird new services. Here are seven of Techlicious’ favorite pieces of foolishiness this year, collected from our top sites.
1. Gmail Blue
How do you completely redesign and recreate something while keeping it exactly the same? The answer is Gmail’s April Fools prank for 2013: Gmail Blue.
The joke here is that Blue, as shown in the YouTube video Google created, is exactly identical to the current version of Gmail. The only difference is that everything on the Gmail Blue site is colored blue. Google hails it as a technological advance six years in the making, and walks you through some of the challenges behind the not-so-groundbreaking innovation.
“We tried orange, brown,” explains Dana Popliger. “Brown was a disaster.”
2. Google Treasure Maps
Google’s Maps site offers a completely different joke: “Treasure mode.” The interactive feature will have you holding your tablet up to the sun to reveal watermarks, working with your friends’ devices to put together pieces of the map, and, of course, exposing your laptop to fire to reveal the heat-sensitive markings. With the right know how and a little bit of ingenuity, you’ll be able to find the lost gold of William Captain Kidd, which we presume you’ll need to replace that laptop you just set on fire.
3. Google Nose
If you’ve ever wondered what a ghost smells like, today is your lucky day. Google’s search site made light of the weird-but-true Google Glass project by announcing Google Nose beta, a self-described “new scentsation in search.”
I can’t say I’ve ever needed help to identify smells – when something smells bad enough, I’d prefer the origin stay a mystery. But for the rest of you, Google Nose offers 15 million scentibytes, Android Ambient Odor Detection (sorry, no iOS support yet), and AdScent beta for businesses, all in the highest resolution possible.
And before you ask: Yes, Google Nose does offer “safe search.” If only my gym bag did the same.
Social network Twitter also got in on the April Fools action, suggesting it was about to split up into two different sites. According to the joke, Twitter is launching Twttr, a free version of its site where you can send short messages of up to 140 characters so long as you don’t use any vowels. If you do want to drop “A,” “E,” “I,” “O,” or “U”s, the premium version of Twitter cost you $5 per month. Expensive, but it’s still a $245 discount off Wheel of Fortune prices.
Don’t worry, though – even though Y sometimes acts as a vowel, you won’t be charged. Reads the Twitter blog post, “because our users come first, we believe that “Y” should always be free to everyone — today and forever.”
5. The White House
It’s not just big Internet companies having fun with April Fools’ – even the White House is getting into the act. Earlier today, President Barack Obama released a new YouTube video on the official White House channel. But this video isn’t an important missive about the sequester or gay marriage – it’s a really elaborate fart joke.
The White House video stars Robby Novak, a 9-year-old from Tennessee who posts YouTube videos under the name “Kid President.” Novak was in Washington yesterday as a special guest at the annual White House Easter Egg Roll, but apparently took time out of his busy schedule as pretend president to … well, pretend to be the president in the press briefing room.
When YouTube first went online in 2005, the site had a simple but important job: Find the best user-uploaded video in the world. And after years of searching, YouTube is finally ready to pick a winner.
YouTube’s April Fools entry suggests that the online compilation of user submitted video was nothing more than an America’s Funniest Home Videos type competition. According to the video, the deadline for submitting videos is midnight tonight, and after a winner is chosen, all of YouTube’s videos will be taken down. It’s all a joke, of course, but I’m still rushing to upload all my footage of frolicking corgis and Deal or No Deal tribute videos before the deadline just in case.
If you’re a fan of YouTube, you might recognize a lot of famous faces in the video – Google recruited a number of its stars to talk briefly about their contest entry. “My dad put a lot of money into dental surgery I didn’t even need,” explains YouTube sensation David After Dentist.
Want to curl up with a movie tonight, but you’re not sure which one to choose? Forget searching for comedies or dramas – Netflix has launched some brand new categories for April Fools’ 2013, and to be quite honest, I really hope they stick around after today.
Some of the new categories include “Movies That Are in English But Still Require Subtitles” (Trainspotting; Snatch), “Movies Featuring an Epic Nicolas Cage Meltdown” (pretty much every Cage movie ever), “TV Shows Where Defiantly Crossed Arms Means Business,” and a personal favorite, “Surreal Ballets Based on a William Shatner Album.”
What, you mean you’ve never seen Gonzo Ballet?
and the rest …
This is just a small sampling of what awaits you online today – there are countless jokes out there just waiting to be discovered. Is one of the seven pranks we mentioned your favorite? Or have you seen another April Fools’ prank that puts these seven to shame? Share your thoughts with us – we’d love to hear them!