April Fools 2012: Google kicks things off with “Google Maps 8-bit for NES” [Update: Gmail Tap, The YouTube Collection, Google Racing & Chrome Multitask Mode]
Google’s at it again, ready to trump all Internet April Fools gags with their latest creation: a new version of Google Maps made specifically for Nintendo’s original home console, the 8-bit Nintendo Entertainment System. The search giant claims to have developed an advanced cartridge that is compatible with Ninty’s Japanese Famicom video game console; it features a dial up modem that allows the cartridge to be connected to the Internet. Once connected, Google “runs more than a hundred thousand servers to overcome the NES’ technical limitations.” Yeah, they put some effort into this one. The result? 8-bit maps are generated on-screen by Google’s cloud services in real time. Google reminds potential buyers of this unfortunately fictitious product that if the cartridge fails to load, try blowing into it to fix bugs. Just like in regular Google Maps, you can search for specific places and route a course by typing or using your voice. The company says that the 8-bit version of Google Maps will “soon be available” in Google Store. For now, however, you can actually try it out by going to Google Maps in your trusty browser and clicking the new Quest icon. The entire map of the world will go 8-bit, as will Street View. Google has made sure to include detailed icons for major landmarks (Eiffel Tower, Sydney Opera House, Alcatraz, Buckingham Palace, Egyptian Pyramids) as well as plant bizarre Easter eggs like an alien at Area 51 and a dragon at the center of Earth.
Watch the official announcement in the video embedded above, then test out the “trial version” at Google Maps today.
Update: Google has a few more tricks up its sleeves. Skip after the break to see ‘em!
Google is reinventing the smartphone virtual keyboard with Gmail Tap. Open up the Gmail app on an Android phone and you’ll be greeted by a “simpler” method of inputting text: Morse code! A dot and a dash are presented on screen; Tap replaces 26 keys with 2. There’s even a feature that allows you to call up two sets of Morse buttons that’ll give you the ability to type two completely separate emails to different recipients at the same time. Here’s the quote of the day: “Gmail Tap multitasking–it’s an improvement over speech. You can say two things with your fingers that you’re mouth can only say one of.” Yes, it’s Gmail Tap and it’s quite extraordinary. Watch the Gmail team flesh it out in the video embedded above, and then head over to the product’s dedicated website to learn more.
Google is offering up every single YouTube clip ever uploaded to the video site on DVD in what the company is appropriately calling The YouTube Collection. Love watching YouTube videos but don’t have an always-on Internet connection? The YouTube Collection is for you. You can order clips and they’ll be hand delivered to your doorstep, along with methods of physically thumbing up and down videos as well as commenting on them. Free add-ons including trending videos on Laser Disc, royalty free soundtracks on vinyl, and weather-proof exterior DVD shelving “for when you’re collection gets too large for the inside of your home.” Google says that “since approximately an hour of video is uploaded to YouTube every second, you’ll receive a new truckload every week.” What are you waiting for? Head over to the main page for The YouTube Collection and click Order Now. Videos are organized by genre (or you can simply select Order the complete collection), shipping options include trucks, the postal service, and freight vessels, you can gift wrap (or request a crate of complimentary gift wrapping paper), and you can opt out of DVD format and choose from videocassette, Laster Disc, and Betamax Tape. Your total price will be shown (upwards of $2.9 million), and then you will be given an anticipated delivery date of June 16, 2045. “Also, April Fools,” Google smacks. Darn.
The April Fools prank that Google has decided to shine the spotlight on is the company’s newly announced partnership with NASCAR (it’s featured on the Google homepage). The initiative is called Google Racing, it’s aim is to introduce autonomous race cars (aka self-driving vehicles) to NASCAR competitions by the middle of next season. Google really went all the way with this one; in addition to creating this dedicated Google Racing site and posting a blog entry written by company co-founder Sergey Brin, they actually partnered with NASCAR to produce a video (CLICK HERE to watch) that details the Google Racing initiative in full and features reactions from famous race car drivers like Jeff Gordon and Brian Pattie. We all know that Google is working on autonomous cars for the road, but this pushes things to a whole other level. Well done, G-Men.
“For decades, the full power of the mouse has been limited. While we’ve been mousing away with one hand, our other hand has often been idle. As information has moved faster and faster, our mousing capacity has stayed the same.” Google thinks they’ve solved this conundrum with Chrome Multitask Mode, a new feature that gives you access to multiple mice at the same time. Watch a demonstration in the video above, then click here to try it out!