Google’s Top 10 April Fools’ Day Pranks

At this point, Google’s April Fools’ pranks are more of a spectacle than an actual prank. By 9am there are already analyses and reports of what Google has done “this year,” and few people are actually fooled—it seems that the pranks are more of a thermometer for how creative Google can still be, versus their ability to really trick people.

With that in mind, we wanted to take the time to look back and admire Google’s creativity: from the good old days of 2000, when people were actually fooled on April Fools’, all the way up until our enlightened age of 2014, when news breaks before it’s even happened, and Google Glass isn’t just a fake technology used by Robocop.

So in no particular order, here are our top 10 favorites—some funny by common standards, and some that even MOZ might find a little too convoluted:

2006: Google Romance

Tagged with the motto: “Dating is a search problem. Solve it with Google Romance,” this was Google’s fake stab at online dating. Without a doubt, there were a lot of disappointed IT guys who clicked through to find it was only a prank.

On the bright side, it’s not out of the question to think this might actually be a thing some day.

2010: Topeka

In response to Topeka, Kansas temporarily changing it’s name to Google—in hopes of scoring a place with their fiber-optics expansion—Google decided to return the favor and change it’s name to Topeka. The went so far as to replace their logo, and it even showed up on their search results page.

2005: Google Gulp

,p>Google created a fake drink, promising that it would optimize the consumer’s use of Google searches by increasing your intelligence.

If only… chortled the SEO company’s Managing Director.

2007: Gmail Paper

Google announced its free new archiving option for Gmail users, subsidized by advertisements printed on the back of each page. The service would literally print off your emails on “96% post-consumer organic soybean sputum” which, by the way, is disgusting, and then snail-mail them to you.

All things considered, it might be the best way to keep the NSA off your back.

2000: MentalPlex

This was Google’s first prank, so you’ll have to forgive them for nerding out a little bit. The idea was that you stared at an animated gif, and projected a mental image of what it is you wanted. Search results pages would then display any number of humorous error messages, e.g. “Error 005: Searching on this topic is prohibited under international law.”

We won’t take that joke any further.

2004: Luna/X

Again, not really out of the realm of possibility in this day and age, Google posted a job listing for the “Google Copernicus Center,” offering a job at a research center on the moon. Sounds like they’ve been talking to Richard Branson.

2008: Virgle

Speaking of Sir Richard, in 2008 Google announced a joint project with Virgin Group, offering users the opportunity to help establish civilization on Mars.

Video applications were submitted as a response to the YouTube video featuring Branson, and Google’s Larry Page & Sergey Brin. Hopefully some of those responses are still online somewhere.

2002: PigeonRank

Touting obscure SEO puns and PageRank jokes, this one wasn’t probably included in your Grandma’s email roundup of her favorite April Fools’ jokes that year, but it certainly gave the industry a good chuckle or two.

For this one, Google released their supposed system for ranking search results—promising no animals were harmed during the process.

2008: Rickrolling

2008 was probably Google’s best year for April Fools’, and their recently acquired YouTube was no exception. On the video site’s international homepages, every featured video linked back to Rick Astley’s “Never Gonna Give You Up,” which is probably the greatest song of all time, featuring dance moves no man shouldn’t know.

2013: Google Nose

One of their more clever fake products, Google Nose promised an index of smells from all over the world, using photons and infrasound waves (whatever those are) to “emulate a particular scent.” The product even extended to mobile devices.

Bonus: Fun Fact

Since you made it all the way to the end, we figured we’d reward you with one of Google’s April Fools’ fun facts: Gmail was actually released just before midnight on March 31st 2004—meant to seem like an April Fools’ prank, because Gmail’s unprecedented convenience was almost too good to be true. Well played, PR department.

So keep looking out for Google’s next great trick—because, who knows, it may or may not actually be real.

Does Google’s Acquisition of Nest Labs Mean We’re One Step Away From Big Brother?

According to a press release put out on Monday, Google has acquired another tech company. Now, Google’s no stranger to acquisitions—having scarfed up more than twenty companies in the last year alone—and has bought out a number of companies in the worlds of VoIP, Robotics, Wind Turbines, Coupons, and plenty more. But when Google announced it’s $3.2 Billion cash agreement with Nest Labs, Inc. this week, it raised more than a few eyebrows.

And not just eyebrows: it accidentally raised the value of a penny stock, Nestor, by 1900%.

OK, so Google has another neat, seemingly innocuous gadget company in its tool belt—it’s just expanding into the hardware market, which is admittedly its weaker area—what’s the big deal? Plus, there’s the happy middle finger that they get to throw Apple’s way (Nest Labs, Inc. is run by the creator of the iPod). Seems like a big win.

But we’re suspicious that Google isn’t just really psyched about smoke alarms.

The press releases quotes Google CEO Larry Page saying of Nest Labs, “They’re already delivering amazing products … thermostats that save energy and smoke/CO alarms that can help keep your family safe. We are excited to bring great experiences to more homes in more countries and fulfill their dreams!” And it made us wonder, why has Google all of sudden become so concerned with home safety?

And then we got a little paranoid.

Maybe it’s all the Snowden in the air, but we got to thinking: could Google be on its way to becoming Big Brother? Think about the facial recognition, RoboCop-esque capabilities in Google Glass being developed over at their labs. How far off it would be for Google to incorporate that same technology into iOS- and Android-equipped smoke alarms, installed in “more homes in more countries” all over the world?

Tony Fadell, Nest Labs’ CEO, said in the press release that he believed Google would help Nest build “simple, thoughtful devices that make life easier at home, and that have a positive impact on the world.” And while we don’t doubt that they could… we’re just saying you may want to keep your voice down around your thermostat.

In fact, it might not be a bad idea for us to be cloaking this blog post.

Whatever Google’s fascination with home safety may be, we’re sure they’ll be doing some big things with Nest Lab’s products. We’re looking forward to seeing where they go next, hopefully before they see us.