Google’s April Fools’ Day Jokes For 2014: Google Maps Pokémon Challenge, Magic Hand & More

april-fools-dayIs it just me, or does it seem like Google starts celebrating April Fools’ Day earlier and earlier every year? No company on the web takes April 1st more seriously than Google, as we’ve been covering for years now. So what about this year’s April Fools’ Day antics? Let’s have a look.

Google Maps: Pokémon Challenge

It was a little past 12 pm ET today (March 31), when the Google Maps team posted its April Fools’ Day gag — the “Pokémon Challenge,” a game/adventure where Pokémon masters are tasked with using Google Maps to find game characters out in the wild. Winners will (facetiously) have a chance to become Google employees.

As with many of Google’s April 1st gags, this one’s kinda “real” in the sense that you can open up your Google Maps app (iPhone or Android), tap the search bar and then touch the new “Press start” button (just as seen in the video below). When my daughter, the family’s Pokémon expert, did that on my iPhone, we were immediately shown a map of Mountain View (Calif.) where a Bulbasaur and Dragonite were hanging out somewhere near the Google campus.

My daughter loves this gag, by the way. Loves it.

Google Japan: The Magic Hand

April Fools’ jokes are a worldwide thing with Google. Via the unofficial Google Operating System blog comes a joke called “The Magic Hand.” It’s a big hand device that operates your smartphone for you. Kinda. I think.

Gmail Shelfies

The Gmail team is out with a joke called Gmail Shelfies, which lets you set a photo of yourself as your Gmail theme, and then share it with others. Or you can subscribe to a theme setting called “Top Trending Shelfies” and Gmail will automatically set your theme from those images. If you’re into that. Sorry Gmail team. This one’s kinda flat as far as I’m concerned.

Nest: Total Temperature Control

Nest, one of Google’s newest acquisitions, is even in the April Fools’ Day game. Their gag is about a partnership with Virgin Atlantic airlines on a feature called “Total Temperature Control.” Every seat on Virgin’s jets gets its own Nest device to let passengers set their own temperature preferences as they fly. (This would actually be potentially cool if it were real.)

Virgin’s Sir Richard Branson even stars in the parody video.

Waze Launches WazeDates

Waze, another fairly recent Google acquisition, has pushed out its joke: a service called WazeDates that helps you “navigate to love faster” when you spot someone attractive while driving. (That sounds like a Google Glass app just waiting to happen, doesn’t it?) I laughed when the guy in the video says he used to honk at attractive females, “but honking can only take you so far.” Heh.

Google+ Auto-Awesome Photobombs

Just after midnight, the Google+ team announced its joke: Auto-Awesome Photobombs. But not just any photobombs — this is celebrity photobombs. For starters, if you upload a photo to Google+, Google might insert an image of David Hasselhoff, like shown in this Google example:

gplus-hasselhoff

It sounds like other celebrities will replace Hasselhoff at some point.

Google “AdBirds”

The AdWords team is going with a play on words called “AdBirds.” There’s no announcement I’ve seen, but people were talking about it on Google+ — and I found it in my AdWords account via an alert when I logged in. You can choose one of six birds for your ad, write copy and … I don’t know what happens after that, frankly, and I’m not sure I want to mess with existing ad groups to find out!

google-adbirds

No doubt there will be many, many more gags from Google over the next 24 hours or so. We’ll keep adding more to this post as we discover them. And, as always, we invite you to let us know if you find one we haven’t mentioned.

(Stock image via Shutterstock.com. Used under license.)