April fools is a huge holiday for tech companies with lots of effort being put into the day for many years now. One of the first known large scale pranks, was 15 years ago, with Google claiming that they could telepathic do your search via MentalPlex.
Some of Google’s Best April Fools Pranks
Google is sort of the king in this arena. It’s rumored their office culture is also big on april fools pranks, and as such they have some of the best pranks on the internet. This is not an exhaustive history, but just the ones that I find the funniest.
In 2004, on April 1, google made two announcements. One that they were releasing gmail, that would forever change webmail. And the second, that they were taking resumes for a new lunar colony called Luna/X. One was true, one was false.
In 2008 youtube (a google company) linked all featured videos on their homepage to “Never Gonna Give You Up” by British singer Rick Astley. This is what started the rick-rolled meme.
In 2011, gmail had a body motion feature, where gmail would act based on your posture. To go along with this, the gmail product manager was in a high quality professional video using this new functionality in gmail.
In 2014, google added Pokémon characters to their map platform. Additional, Nest (a google company) teamed up with Virgin Airlines to make it seem that you could control the air temperature directly around your seat in the plane.
Google does multiple April Fools Jokes a year, normally matching the year. Meaning they did 2 in 2002, 8 in 2008, and 14 in 2014. This year they are likely to do 15, although not ever year do they follow this exactly.
Netflix is a new-comer to the April fools game, but has done some good ones. In 2013 they added some totally obscure categories to their video service. “Movies Starring Estelle Getty and Some Other Guy” (with only the film Stop! Or My Mom Will Shoot listed), “Movies That Are in English, But Still Require Subtitles” (with Snatch and Trainspotting), and “TV Shows Where Defiantly Crossed Arms Mean Business!” (featuring television shows with cover art showing people with their arms crossed)
In 2014, netflix made a big announcement involving their original series, which were blowing up in a huge way at that time, like House of Cards. Complete with press releases, they announced their new series, which consisted of two episodes, one of chicken on a rotisserie and another of bacon and little else.
In 2013, twitter announced it would charge five dollars per month for the use of vowels.
In 2012, mashable declared Conan O’Brien their CEO, and he appeared on every page of the website, normally creeping up from a corner or sliding down from the top.
Interestingly, Apple does not participate in this annual event, thought the company was founded on April 1, 1976.
So this year, don’t believe anything you see on April 1. Heck, maybe not even April 2.