Google, Hulu pull their usual April Fools’ pranks


For April Fool's Day, Hulu is promoting fictional shows such as "The Itchy and Scratchy Show" from "The Simpsons" and "The Rural Juror" from "30 Rock." (Screenshot of Hulu.com by Hayley Tsukayama/Screenshot of Hulu.com by Hayley Tsukayama)
April 1, 2013

The new month has already brought a lot of major tech news: Google announced Saturday that it’s closing YouTube and launching a scent search engine; meanwhile, Twitter is launching a two-tiered service that will require users to pay $5 if they want vowels included in their messages.

In other words, it’s April Fool’s Day, and major tech companies are following tradition and pulling some big pranks.

Going back to its roots as “Twttr” — the original name of the service — the micro-blogging site joked that it will eliminate vowels on its site for more efficient conversation — though the company will continue to provide “y” free of charge, since it pulls double-duty as a vowel and a consonant. For those who just can’t bear to lose their vowels, the company offered a premium vowel service for a $5 monthly fee.

The joke is pretty detailed, with Twitter saying these changes won’t apply to languages that don’t use roman characters and even launching a converter site for those who want to see what their messages would look like without any of those all-important five letters.

Actually, cutting out vowels would make messages a little more Twitter-friendly . . . but much hrdr t ndrstnd.

Hulu also joined in the fun again, by promoting fictional television shows, such as the Bart Simpson favorite, “The Itchy and Scratchy Show,” and 30 Rock’s tongue-twisting fake show, “The Rural Juror.”

Clicking on the shows’ links — which also include “Mock Trial with J. Reinhold” from “Arrested Development” and “Inspector Spacetime” from “Community” — will take you to a clip from each show.

Google, arguably the king of Web site April Fool’s Day pranks, launched several jokes, including:

- The announcement that it would no longer be accepting submissions for its YouTube contest and releasing a video saying that the site has been engaged in an eight-year competition to find the best video on the Web. YouTube trotted out several of its biggest stars as “judges” for the contest and said it will take a 10-year break to review all the entries. The winner gets to have his or her video played on YouTube, plus a sweet clip-on mp3 player and $500 for the “next creative endeavor.”

- Google Nose, a scent-based mobile search engine that lets users search for smells such as “wet dog” or “self-driving new care smell” in a “15 million scentabyte database.” The video announcing the service parodies Google’s usual dramatic, musical product announcement, and shows interviews with project managers and engineers. The company is nothing if not self-aware.

- A new layer in Google Maps that leads you to hidden treasure buried by William “Captain” Kidd, launching a stylized and interactive map of the world.

- Gmail Blue — perhaps a veiled shot at Microsoft?— which is trumpeted with a (highly produced) video announcing that Google will make Gmail, well, blue.

As a lead designer on the fake project enthusiastically shares in the introduction: “You write in the body of the e-mail; the font comes up blue. You don’t have to make it blue. It is blue. It just is blue.”

- Google Wallet Mobile ATM, an old-school approach to mobile payments: When you plug in the device to your smartphone, it dispenses cash.

Related stories:

Google Nose is fake. The artificial nose isn’t.

Cuccinelli springs April Fools’ joke

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Hayley Tsukayama covers consumer technology for The Washington Post.
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