Jokes As A Service: ReadWrite Laughs At April Fool’s So You Don’t Have To

It’s April Fool’s, the day tech sites vie for the unofficial title of ‘Funniest Company.’

It’s become something of a tradition for companies to outdo themselves by introducing silly new features. And whether you think it’s tiresome or the best thing since sliced bread, these kinds of playful parodies are now fixtures within our modern Web. It’s “Jokes As A Service”—each company’s demonstration that it doesn’t take itself too seriously to give you a laugh at its own expense. 

We’re rounding up these April Fool’s Day 2014 pranks so you can nod politely at your overexcited coworkers—and then get back to work on something amazing. So you’ll have the last laugh. 

“Gmail Shelfie”

As soon as you log in to your Gmail this morning, you’ll find that you supposedly have the option to set a photo of your face as your email background—and the email background of all your friends and family, too.  

Google calls it the “shelfie,” the sharable selfie, and the company explains its reasoning in a blog post:  

“As the pioneering platform for selfies, Gmail is committed to being at the forefront of innovation in the selfie space. And we think it’s a tragedy that your handsome hair, luscious lashes and beautiful brows have been trapped in your own inbox.”

What’s more, if you actually upload your own “shelfie” today, it will show up in the inbox of any stranger who chooses (or accidentally selects) the Trending Shelfies option.

Reddit’s “Headdit”

Insisting that it has nothing to do with the date, the social news site has introduced “Headdit,” which is described as a new way to browse Reddit with one’s facial expressions—or even your cat.

Give Reddit access to your webcam and you’ll find the prank fully functional, allowing you to scroll up and down and even administer upvotes and downvotes with a wave of your head. Hold up a cat to unlock the coveted “cat mode.”

LinkedIn CYMK (Cats You May Know)

The reasoning behind LinkedIn’s April Fool’s Day prank seems to be simply that the Internet loves cats. Now the network purports to give our feline friends a place to connect. From the LinkedIn blog

“The purrfectly sleek design features large photos so you can clearly see which cool cat you’re connecting to. You can also easily access every feline’s expertise (from chasing bits of lint on the floor to watching birds), as well as their locations and interests — all with a single click.”

While you may actually want to meet “pawed professionals” like Battlepaws Galacticat, this prank is just a blog post, not a fully functional site. 

Google Maps’ Pokémon

Like you were going to do real work on April Fool’s Day anyway. Google Maps has delivered the ultimate timewaster in the form of this challenge. 

Hunt for Pokémon at various manmade landmarks, Google HQs and volcanos, among other places, and see if you can find all 150 Pokémon—and all 5+ Pokémon Centers (Here’s a hint: one’s located at the Charles Darwin Research Station in the Galapagos Islands).

Keep in mind this prank is only visible on mobile maps, so check it out on your phone. 

Virgin America and Nest

Every other Google company is doing a prank today, so it makes sense that Google-acquired Nest would also get in on the fun.  

This prank is something that I kind of wish were real. It purports to let every passenger customize their seating area with “total temperature control” with pre-set temperatures ranging from “Cancun Afternoon,” to the far less appealing “Chicago Polar Vortex.” 

Microsoft Brings Back Clippy

Photo via the Microsoft blog.

If you’re a reader of a certain age, you might remember Clippy, the ubiquitously annoying Microsoft Office ’97 assistant. A talking paperclip nobody liked, Clippy steadfastly held on until Windows XP.  

At least this prank shows Microsoft’s ability to laugh at itself, because starting today, it announced that it is bringing back “everyone’s favorite Office assistant.” From the blog

“‘Microsoft announced the date for the end of Windows XP support back in 2007, so I’ve had a lot of time to plan my next move,’ said Clippy. ‘And now I’m excited to finally announce the next chapter in my life. I’m going back to basics and doing what paper clips like me are born to do: Attach things to other things.’”

Tumblr Pro

If you’re a user, you’ll notice a little icon in the lower right hand corner of your screen beckoning you to check out “Tumblr Pro.” It links to this heartwarming video about changing the world:

And then, after inspiring and invigorating you, Tumblr asks if you’d like to join Tumblr Pro. If you say yes, only one thing happens—it adds a top hat to your user icon… and that’s it. 

Chrome Emoji Support 

Don’t you wish the Web were just pictures instead of words? Chrome does, which is why it claims to have announced Emoji support today, translating the Web into symbols. From the blog:

“One Emoji symbol can easily replace dozens of characters, improving efficiency and comprehension on the go. It turns out the best way to communicate in the future is to look to the past: the ancient Egyptians were really onto something with their hieroglyphs.”

Chrome encourages you to download the latest mobile version in order to receive emoji support, but clicking on the feature does nothing—it’s just a visual prank. 

Airbnb’s Airbrb

This fake service is like a microscopic version of Airbnb. Instead of booking a space for the night, Airbrb lets hosts rent out their desks for 20 minutes or so while they’re out. Includes the coveted “budget” desk, which appears to be just a cardboard box. 

Chromecast TV for Squirrels

In what certainly isn’t the last prank from Google today comes a video advertising Chromecast for squirrels. 

This video basically outlines the actual, non-jokey features of the Chromecast, but with a decidedly squirrelish bent. It also notes that a squirrel is not included with purchase.

Code School’s Try Flux

From the online school for technology skills comes Try Flux, an introduction to integrated circuits and flux capacitors—the foundations of time travel. A retro-looking course page encourages you to sign up asking, “What’s the worst that could happen?”

Unfortunately, this futuristic course isn’t functional, so the page encourages you to try “last year’s launch,” Surviving APIs with Rails. Just be sure to click the “MyTunes” Easter Egg before you go. 

Kayak For Bathrooms

From the travel search company that helps you find places to go comes a fake new feature designed to, well, help you find places to go. Kayak for Bathrooms features bathrooms that you can use right now, for “extended stay,” or for repeated use. 

Click on any of the four bathroom images on the page—it’ll lead to silly reviews, ads for toilet paper, and pun-filled fake Google Ads developed by Kayak itself.

Top photo via Official Gmail Blog

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