April Fools' 2013: The best techy pranks of the day

Just because ZDNet didn't pull your leg with any fictitious, fun stories today, that doesn't mean others haven't. Here are some of the best of this year's April Fools' jokes.
1 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

It's that time of year again...

On this day every year, some companies pull off the most audacious stunts on their unwitting customer base and wider population — Google, as usual, took center stage with its range of pranks — yet many still fall for even the strangest of pranks.

This year, as you might expect, is no different. While ZDNet isn't playing a part in the foolery — we're taking the "serious approach" to news (at least most of the time) — we thought you might enjoy some of the other jokes pulled by other websites, technology companies and news networks.

Update 1 (10:30 a.m. ET): Added Nokia microwave, Newegg's deals, iFixit's orange teardown, and WolframAlpha's handwritten knowledge engine. 

Update 2 (11:00 a.m. ET): Added Sony for pets, a Play-Doh 3D printer, and Blizzard's crabby crab.

Update 3 (11:35 a.m. ET): Added "The Freedom Bay," SwiftKey's full-body text input, glass-bottomed Virgin Atlantic airplanes, and another April Fools' from Google.

Update 4 (12:40 p.m. ET): Added Imgur's snail mail upload, and Vimeo's "Vimeow" cat video uploading service.

Update 5 (1:30 p.m. ET): Added Reddit's pokey stick prank.

2 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

1. Google adds "treasure" to Maps

Google is taking on a pirate theme for its Maps application, by allowing users to transform its mapping service into a pirate-like treasure map. A tea-stained and sepia toned map displays some of the most popular landmarks in the real-world. 

As an added bonus, check out any Street View road, street or highway and you can zoom in through a pirate's spyglass. 

Check it out here.

3 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

2. The world's first social toaster?

Many check their overnight tweets on their phone as they're waiting for their toast to pop up. Mesh the two together like Bizzby did and you can tweet from your toaster as your bread is crisping away. And for added awesomeness, you can even control your 21st-century toaster from your iPhone.

While the whole concept is a complete joke, you can still check it out here.

4 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

3. YouTube "shutting down"

"This is the end. My only friend, the end." Except, it actually isn't, despite Google claiming that YouTube is shutting down. The site claims that the site was an 8-year-long contest and Google will choose a winner, which will be the only video available on the site when it launches again in 2023, or ten years from now.

YouTube was expected to generate $3.6 billion last year according to analysts, so shutting down the video sharing service may not actually be the best idea in the world. It does come at a difficult time for Google Reader users who have erupted in outrage and anger at the search giant's plans to shut down the feed reader — and this time for real.

Check out Google announcing the death of YouTube here.

5 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

4. Dexter the crime-fighting dog

Dexter lives a good, moral life by helping out U.K. police do their job on the Web. By sniffing out danger, he helps the police in investigations. But on a semi-serious note, the U.K.'s Get Safe Online unit notes that Dexter cannot sniff out malware and online nasties unlike a good, strong anti-virus solution, and takes the day to remind online 'fools' to be wary of online criminals.

Check out Dexter's photoshoot here.

6 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

5. Google 'sniffing out' search results

Yet another Google prank for April Fools' Day, as the search giant goes all out on its range of stunts, spanning social networking, mapping and video. And its core search business is no different. 

Google "Nose" probably didn't have many fooled, the concept is interesting, allowing users to search for smells and have it fed back to them via their smartphones. Even "don't ask, don't smell" features are included for the more nefarious, not-safe-for-work Web results.

Check out the new 'service' here.

7 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

6. "Emotion" thoughts with Google+

Social network Google+ now allows you to add additional "emotion" thought bubbles to your uploaded photos, adding a little more thought to the picture. With one click of a button, you can now 'see' what people are thinking. At least, sometimes.

Check out the announcement here.

8 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

7. Samsung goes green with "eco-tree"

Samsung's SMART Eco Trees rips into the company's own green policy. These new trees run on solar energy and release oxygen for a healthier environment. S-Buds also help add surrounding fragrance and change color with different options.

Yes, it's a tree. Just a tree. 

The first comment on the announcing blog post: "Fertilized with S-Hit?" We've put in questions with Samsung and we'll get right back to you with the answer to that one. 

Read the announcement here.

9 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

8. Guardian Goggles

Move over Google Glass, The Guardian has its own version heading out the door for April 1, 2013. Not wanting to be outdone by Google's own augmented reality bit of kit, the London-based newspaper is "launching" its own set of specs to offer "immersive liberal insight."

Look at some trash along the street? Read an article on eco-waste. See a gas-guzzler Hummer on your way? Learn more about carbon emissions. You name it, you see it, you read it.

You can watch the video here.

10 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

9. Bing goes Google

If you wander down over to Bing today, you're surely in for a surprise. Microsoft is swiping a jibe at Google by changing how it looks if you search for "google" in the rival search engine. It's still regular Bing under the surface, though. And just for extra heart-ripping measure, you can either "Search" or hit the soon-to-be infamous "I'm Feeling Confused" button instead.

Type "google" in at Bing now.

11 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

10. Google takes on Gmail "Blue"

"How to we completely redesign something and recreate something while keeping it exactly the same?"

That's Google's swipe at "Blue," the codename for the next-generation update for Windows that has been reported on in recent weeks. Microsoft's Blue project will ultimately revamp Windows 8's "Metro" user interface with some tweaks and new features later this year, along with some other hidden, unknown mysteries. Oh, you guys.

You can find out more about Google Blue here.

12 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

11. Toshibasphere

Toshiba, in true April Fools' spirit, has another product reserved for this special day. The Toshibasphere is essentially a games console with Kinect-like abilities, that includes multiple HDMI ports, a 809.3b infrared motion detection feature, and 12 core 3.5 Ghz processors.

With such hit titles as "Patriarch 2013" and "Contract Negotiations," it's bound to be a popular console. And, according to Gamer Device Magazine, "We've never seen anything like this." That's because you haven't. It doesn't exist.

You can check out the video here.

13 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

12. Twitter becomes Twttr

Twitter finally has its business model sorted — at long last. For only $5 a month, you will be able to use the "premium" version of Twitter that includes vowels. Those unlucky enough to be on the basic version will have to suffer without using a single vowel.

But Twitter, dubbed "Twttr," is playing fair. "A E I O U and sometimes Y," it says on its blog, because out of the goodness of its own heart, "we believe that 'Y' should always be free to everyone — today and forever.

Check out Twitter's announcement here.

14 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

13. Newegg brings back antenna-tech

Retail site Newegg launched its own April Fools' joke today by announcing it would be selling the "latest and greatest" technology, such as a portable television or "personal computer with monochromatic monitor" for more than four-times today's asking price. $1,295 is a bragain for 16KB of RAM, after all. And for those still using pagers, you'll be in for a treat.

And yes, they're sporting antenna-based tech for all those pre-1990s "cellular communicators."

You can check out Newegg's latest, special offers here.

15 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

14. Nokia turns up the heat with branded microwave oven

Nokia's cellular business has been going down the pan for some time. The Finnish phone maker is branching out to microwave ovens, according to a blog post — obviously written by staffers behind the scenes tee-hee-heeing at the thought of such a thing.

The new Nokia 5AM-TH1N6 comes with eye-tracking technology which "stops the food from rotating when you look at it," and appears to be powered by Windows Phone, according to the live updating tiles on its display. 

More from Nokia's new kitchenware venture here.

16 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

15. WolframAlpha's Handwritten Knowledge Engine

Handwriting is a skill many seem to be forgetting in the digital age, but WolframAlpha is reigniting its passion for an art that has been with written verbiage since language began.

The WolframAlpha Handwritten Knowledge Engine will — in realtime — regurgitate results from its existing pool of information and spout it back on your screen by a "real person" handwriting your results. Of course, they're just kidding but it's got some interesting results.

Try it here.

17 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

16. iFixit tears-down a low-tech orange

iFixit, the firm that rips gadgets to pieces to determine what's inside, have pulled their own stunt for April Fools' day by tearing down not an iPad, or a Galaxy Note, or any other electronic device for that matter, but an orange.

Yes, an orange. Handily noted by the teardown team as being "believed to be the hybrid between a pomelo and a mandarin," the team use their existing bevy of tools and machinery to look inside one of the most popular fruits of all time. Behold, the oOpener!

Check out their work here.

18 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

17. Sony unveils gadgets for your pets

The Animalia range of devices and gadgets are specifically designed with your pets in mind. From K9 4K televisions and M3-OW KittyCans, the new line-up of Sony-branded products even account for hamsters. 

From earphones that allow cats to get the rest they deserve (and with additional "I'm ignoring you" technology) to speakers for hamsters that time in-sync with their wheel-running exercise, Sony is catering for — at long last — every furry member of your non-human family.

Check out Sony's video here.

19 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

18. Play-Doh 3D printer

3D printing is becoming all the rage, but kids have typically been left out of the fun. Play-Doh is bringing its own 3D-printing capabilities to ages 3 and above. ThinkGeek describes it as "the most economical and fun entry-level 3D printer on the market." It's also iPad compatible so you can hook up your tablet to the quick-assembly device and create your own Play-Doh designs using basic computer-aided design (CAD) software.

Alas, despite it's awesomeness, it's not real and can't (and likely never will be) available for purchase.

Check out its specs here.

20 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

19. Blizzard's forum crab

Blizzard has a crab. (Not crabs, and not what you're likely thinking.) An actual crab, sitting in the corner of its World of Warcraft game forums ready to help out and offer assistance to anyone who might want it. Think of it as a high-resolution modern day version of Clippy, the paperclip assistant in Microsoft Office.

Why a crab? Not sure, but rumors suggest the crab is simply known as Crabby the Ghost Crab. How very appropriate. 

Check out Crabby on Blizzard's forums here.

21 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

20. Pirate Bay 'relocates' servers to U.S.

Now dubbed "The Freedom Bay," the world's most difficult-to-shut-down file-sharing site said today it had relocated its servers to the U.S. In a single line, The Pirate Bay said in a blog post: "America, f**k yeah!" and that it had worked closely with the U.S. government to "establish a strong military graded server park."

Obviously, that would never happen considering the U.S. is home to some of the site's most aggressive copyright lawyers — most users download content illegally through the site. It also comes only a few weeks after it pulled a similar April Fools'-like stunt by claiming it had relocated to North Korea.

Check out its new homepage here (that is, if you're not in a country that blocks the site.)

22 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

21. SwiftKey Tilt offers full-body text input

SwiftKey, used by millions worldwide on Android phones, makes typing more efficient and easier. Now, the company behind the text-input application has taken it to a whole new level. 

SwiftKey Tilt includes a ball on the keyboard that senses body movements to enter text on the screen. You have to use your hands to control the ball on the screen to determine which words you want to enter. It might make you look a little foolish (get it?) using it, though, but the developers state that the new software is compatible with the Harlem Shake — though, it hasn't been tested, nor can good results be guaranteed.

Check out the fictional software's promo video here.

23 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

22. Virgin Atlantic launches first glass-bottomed airplane

A lot of tech goes into modern airplanes, from cockpit gadgetry to the little screens that display your favorite films as your hurtling across the Atlantic in a tin tube of other people's reconstituted air. Nobody really likes flying all that much, but Virgin Atlantic's latest spoof is to create aircraft with glass-bottomed floors — allowing passengers you to see the ocean and the land from 30,000 feet.

Check out its press release here.

24 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

23. Google Apps introduces "Levity" feature

Google Apps' new feature "Levity" allows those scheduling meetings to actually get a good attendance for once. Dreary meetings often have little point or purpose. But Google's new Levity to spice up even the dullest of workdays by spicing up your enterprise communications platform: from funnier emails and amazing presentations, just to name a couple.

Coming to a Google Apps enterprise... never. You should check out the video anyway.

25 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

24. Imgur introduces 'snail mail' upload

Imgur, the image sharing site at the very foundation root-level of popular news-sharing site Reddit, has introduced a new way to upload photos: snail mail upload.

By printing or cutting out your snaps or articles, you can now send in your pictures to Imgur's head office in San Francisco to cut out the laborious few seconds it would take to upload a picture to the site. Imgur says: "Keep calm and give away your computer–Imgur now does the hard work for you. Still on dial-up? No worries–you won’t even need the Internet to share your cat pictures."

Check out their own animated GIF memes on their blog post.

26 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

25. Vimeo embraces cats with "Vimeow"

Vimeo has long been the second-place runner behind YouTube in the video space. Today, Vimeo 'rebrands' itself as "Vimeow" in order to fully embrace the crazy cat memes that have engulfed the Web. A bevy of features have been rebranded as cat-related items, and Vimeow also soon hopes to introduce "Tummyrub," which enables you to show your appreciation for any cat video. Just don't upload any videos of wool yarns otherwise we'll be here all day. 

You can check out their staff blog post here.

27 of 27 Zack Whittaker/ZDNet

26. Reddit rolls out pokey sticks to prod users with

News sharing site Reddit, not wanting to miss out on the April Fools' action, went down for a few minutes around lunchtime today to roll out its own mischievery to the plethora of pranks already on the Web.

Reddit said it had "acquired Team Fortress 2," a popular first-person game. "In an effort to make players comfortable with the acquisition, we'll be slowly integrating features from the popular free to play game into the standard Reddit experience." And that's where the "Pokey Stick of Social Capitulation" comes into play, the first item given to each Reddit user to prod and poke their peers with during the course of the day. 

Read more at the Reddit blog.

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