It's become an annual tradition at this point: on the first day of April, tech companies from across the world take it upon themselves to share their latest projects, products, goals, and so forth, but really, they're all just nonsensical hoaxes.
April Fools' Day is celebrated every year on 1 April. It's a day when people play practical jokes on each other, and those pranks, as well as their victims are commonly known as "April fools". It's a tradition that has been popular since the 19th century, at least throughout the UK, Europe, Canada, the US, and other countries. It's only recently however become a way for businesses to score extra press attention.
From Google to BMW, several companies, startups, and even news outlets have taken advantage of the unofficial holiday. Some even go all out; unleashing big-budget, commercial-like videos that trick consumers into believing something truly far-out has happened or released. We don't mind all the hogwash though, as it just means more fun and entertainment on a day that's supposed to be about having a laugh.
Thus, with April Fools' Day once again around the corner, we thought it would be a great time to check the archives and round up the best gags to ever hit the web. We've found 20 worth highlighting, but there have been hundreds of hilarious examples from over the years.
Let us know in the comments if you remember another one that should definitely be included.
Expedia's flights to Mars
Way back in 2009, Expedia offered cheap flights from Earth to Mars for just $99. The online travel company advertised the deal as an amazing opportunity, as it claimed to have dropped all booking fees, saving you over $3 trillion on the normal fare. Gee - what a deal!
We've embedded a video for the original prank above, and if you want, you can also go to the prank's still-live website.
Google Translate for Animals
There's always a lot of impressive work going on at Google, but in 2009, the company apparently came up with a new Android app (in conjunction with the Bodleian Library) that could decipher what your pooch was trying to tell you.
Although it was an obvious joke, the company unveiled the app as if it was the real-deal: a tool that allowed you to understand all sorts of animals' barks, mews, grunts, and cheeps. Check out the video for the prank above.
What's missing from your favourite pictures? The chance to smell them of course.
Kodak's team of R and D dudes claimed to have worked out how to use a camera's sensor to capture smells in a photo (be it baked goods, flowers, or a wet mutt). This hoax is from 2010, and honestly, it's something we totally wish was real even today. It could be like scratch-n-sniff pics!
Toshiba tends to do at least one April Fools' joke every year. In 2010, for instance, it advertised an inflatable laptop that you could use in the bath, the pool, or anywhere you like. All you had to do was hold down Ctrl + Alt+ P+U+M+P.
Why isn't this actually a thing?
Groupon tickets to the Royal Wedding
One of our personal favourite April Fools' from 2011 was simply too good to be true. The London section of coupon website Groupon advertised a pair of tickets to the Royal Wedding at £8 (reduced from £1,200). You can still see the deal's page here.
Highlights included invitations to the after party, a guided tour of Westminster Abbey from Prince Phillip, and a glass of house wine each. Funnily enough, the deal apparently sold out with 1,235 bought.
Spotify Announcing US Launch; Closing European Service To Fund It
In 2011, TechCrunch reported that Spotify finally announced the launch of its North American version. There was just one problem: to pay for the launch, Silicon Valley investors demanded the streaming service shut down its European service, to which Spotify agreed. Ha. Good one!
Side note: it's weird to think now that Spotify has only been available in the US for a few year.
Not content with owning the Internet, Google shot off a volley of April Fool's gags in 2011, but the best of the bunch was a job application for a Google Autocompleter. Out of all the acted-out April Fools' Day movies, this one was probably the most natural, if not the most believable.
The idea behind the gag is that Google actually employed people to come up with what consumers are trying to type as they're typing. The listed job advert asked for skills like typing at a good speed (32,000 WPM) and a certificate of psychic ability.
The Peugeot RCZ: The mood colour-changing car
Peugeot UK created a great April Fool for 2012 that was all about a mood colour-changing car.
Technicians at Peugeot apparently developed a new technology by using a psychochromatic coating (mood paint), which altered the molecular structure of a car's paint to emit light at varying wavelengths. The driver’s moods could be detected via heat sensors integrated into the steering wheel. The sensors read the driver's body temperature and pulse rate in order to change the exterior colour of the car accordingly.
A whole emotional spectrum of body colours was available, including dark blue for when drivers are feeling a little down, or a hue of green for when a driver is detected to be feeling very relaxed. If only this were real.
Sony Vaio Q - the world's smallest Ultrabook
Sony introduced in 2012 a new addition to the VAIO line up. The computer was referred to at the time as the world’s most portable Ultrabook.
It had a full HD 0.75-inch x 1.25-inch screen size with a "revolutionary feature set and monolithic design". Sony also said those looking to work on the tiny computer would get "exceptional picture quality in 2D and 3D with full graphics support".
Sir Richard Branson in 2012 launched Virgin Volcanic, promising to let people get to the centre of the earth and back via their nearest volcano.
"Only 500 people have been to space, only three people have been to the bottom of the ocean, but no one has ever attempted to journey to the core of an active volcano. Until now," Virgin proclaimed via a fake website. "Virgin is proud to announce a revolutionary new vehicle, VVS1, which will be capable of plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano.
VVS1 was meant to target the five most active volcanoes in the world: Etna, Stromboli, Yasur, Ambrym and Tinakula. Sir Richard Branson said he would go on the first expedition along with Tom Hanks, Will.i.am, Seth Green, and Barbara Kopple.
YouTube is closing, has been an eight-year competition
YouTube announced in 2013 that the video site would no longer be accepting entries or new videos. It was revealed that YouTube had been an eight-year competition to find the best video in the world, with a team of people having reviewed every single clip uploaded to the site.
To further enhance the ludicrous gag, the company encouraged you to watch as many videos as possible on YouTube before it deleted everything on the site at midnight. Speaking of which, the video clip that has accompanied this April Fools Day joke is very funny indeed and should be watched immediately. While the gag is not as believable as some out there, the effort put into its creation has to be applauded.
Virgin Atlantic glass-bottomed plane
Here's another from Virgin. In 2013, Virgin Atlantic was set to launch an Airbus A320 with a transparent viewing strip on the bottom. Passengers could therefore look straight down as they fly above the clouds.
“We've announced that our world-class engineering crew have been working on the production of the world's first-ever glass-bottomed plane, created to ensure passengers can enjoy both an unparalleled flying experience, as well as a selection of stunning landscapes from the comfort of their seats,” said Virgin on its blog, which is still accessible today.
iFixit's orange teardown
We've seen smartphones and all kinds of tech dissected in intricate detail by iFixit, but in 2013, a fruity entry received a repairability score of zero for the first time. Why? Because it was April Fool's Day and we're talking about an orange.
Cats Corner: Windows Phone 8 for felines
It's well known that cats rule the internet. But in 2013, they also ruled Windows Phone 8 for a day. Cat's Corner, posted by WindowsPhoneUK on Twitter, was a new WP8 feature that allowed your feline friend access to their favourite apps "without getting their paws into trouble".
We wish Microsoft would actually built this into Windows 10. Like, right meow.
HTC Gluuv beta
Ever wanted to look like a futuristic Michael Jackson spaceman?
HTC seemingly had the answer in 2014, with its Gluuv smartphone-meets-glove device. If it can be called a device. Let’s just call it a thing: ”Imagine the power of complete smartphone creative freedom," HTC proclaimed, "Now imagine that freedom in the shape of a glove.”
Yes, it’s just what we always wanted too. The Gluuv was designed to integrate with the new HTC One, but also featured an 87.2-megapixel camera on the back of the hand for the ultimate “armie selfie”. Perhaps our favourite feature is the Protekt app. It’s the symbol of a knuckle duster.
Yeah, HTC went there. Phone fight!
Nokia 3310 Windows Phone 8 makeover
People always moaned that Windows Phone didn't have more than two rows of tiles. Clearly Nokia had its priorities right in 2014 on 1 April; it re-visited the classic Nokia 3310 by squeezing Windows Phone into the screen’s curvaceous edges, curved tiles included.
This April Fools’ Day makeover also nabbed the 41-megapixel camera as found in the top-spec Lumia 1020. Although we’re not sure which key in the not-so-classic button arrangement would be meant to fire the shutter. Very silly. Although if such a phone came to market we suspect it’d be a bit of a hit with the hipsters. But let’s focus on tablets with more tile rows for now, ok Nokia?
Orbotix, makers of smartphone-controlled orb Sphero, created SelfieBot in 2014. It was a flying orb able to take the perfect selfie photos by hovering next to a user, always ready to grab a shot.
The company said: "Unlike our other robots, SelfieBot is fully autonomous, sentient and capable of flight. Forged from cutting-edge technology and programmed with advanced artificial intelligence, its primary objective is to hover at your side, recording your life in high definition detail. Forever."
To say the tag line "always watching... for life's precious moments" scares the pants off us would be an understatement. But that's all part of the joke, which worked well in the video. While this was a good laugh, the thought of drones like this being available is pretty sobering.
Google Glass Solo
Say hello to the Google Glass Solo, an attempted revamp of Google Glass for April Fools' Day in 2014. It was a monocle with a lanyard, and it addresses the problem of social ostracism. It could also be tucked under your waistcoat pocket for lordly discretion.
You can learn more about the first device in the Glass OLE (one lens experience) family by checking out this Pocket-lint feature: Google Glass Solo looks to cure 'glasshole' woes. Ideal for hipsters? You bet'cha.
BMW Sleeping Machine
BMW expanded its lineup in 2014 to include the BMW ZZZ Series Cot.
To go along with the product launch, the car firm has released a rather cute video advert with lots of engine roars and pans of a leather interior. But instead of seeing a sleek new car at the end of the video, an "Ultimate Sleeping Machine" is revealed. It's a baby cot that "embodies the spirit of The Ultimate Driving Machine".
The BMW ZZZ was a fusion of German engineering and advanced technology that could help your baby "sleep better, for longer, in safety and comfort," according to BMW. Of course, the BMW ZZZ wasn't real, so you couldn't give your baby a premium nursery experience, but it's still funny nonetheless. BMW also published a dedicated website for the fake product, so consumers could check out all the imaginary features and specs.
Nest + Virgin Galactic
The company behind the smart, learning thermostat posted a video in 2014 to detail its partnership with Virgin Galactic. They wanted to bring the world's first space tourists something called Total Temperature Control. It meant that each passenger on board the space craft would travel to the outer reaches of the Earth's atmosphere, but they'd also gets his or her own Nest thermostat to customise their own seat temperature.
It's always fun to see one company partake in April Fools', but it's even better when two distinct companies go in on the gag together.