6 April Fool’s Pranks So Brilliant They Became Real
Each year on April 1, the Web is inevitably rife with April Fool’s gags, some clever, others not so smart. Most jokesters can easily hack their way into a friend’s Facebook profile and fraudulently change their status to “engaged” or announce a pregnancy. But some April Fool’s pranks are so impressive, so close to reality that they inspire people to actually make them real.
1 – Gmail Motion
This year Google tried to fool us into believing that Gmail could be controlled by gestures. The joke was that with Gmail Motion users would be able to control their inbox with some simple, near-outlandish movements that would be detected by the computer’s webcam. But researchers at the University of Southern California created a clever hack via Xbox 360’s Kinect to bring Gmail Motion to life. The act allowed these researchers to do just what Google had lampooned: one could thrust his arm over his shoulder to reply to an email or lick his fingers and slap his knee to send a new message.
2 – iPhone Precursor
Pocket-lint might have been unaware that it was predicting the future back in 2004 when it joked that Apple would debut a mobile phone add-on for the iPod. The site admitted that it was a gag, and said it hoped Apple would make something like that “one day.” It was only three years later that Apple unveiled the mega-popular iPhone.
3 – Tauntaun sleeping bag
Since 2001, ThinkGeek has introduced on April 1 some products so ridiculous you might not think they’re legitimate. Perhaps one of the most memorable pranks items is one that recreates a scene from Star Wars. Complete with a light saber zipper pull, the Tauntaun sleeping bag lets wannabe Jedis feel like they’re sleeping in the belly of the beast just like Luke Skywalker and Han Solo. Planet Hoth sold separately.
Of course, that’s not the only gag product to come from ThinkGeek. They’re also behind such wacky items as canned unicorn meat or the wireless extension cord. You can see a full list of their zany April 1 collection here.
4 – Tweeting from the womb
CNet has come up with some pretty hilarious pranks of its own. In 2007, the site posted a fake story about a social network called UltraSoundd that allowed unborn babies to document their lives in the womb. As if the thought of Facebooking from the womb didn’t already sound creepy, one expectant dad decided to make the concept into a reality. He invented Kickbee, a band worn around the belly that would send kicks to Twitter, posting the sensation as tweets from the fetus itself.
5 – Rat map
In that same year CNet had another faux news item about a Google Maps mashup that kept tabs on New York City restaurants that were infested with rats. The idea prompted the city’s health department to launch a rat map that did pretty much the same thing that the joke story had claimed to do, letting eaters see which establishments had rodent problems.
6 – Freaking Huge URLs
In a 140-character era, one April Fools launch might have you scratching your head. Last April 1, Freaking Huge URL kicked off with much the opposite intent from URL-shorteners like Bit.ly or TinyURL. It worked as a real product for some time, taking smaller URLs and made them bigger using three different settings. Just how big could these parody-URLs be? Using the “holy crap” setting, they could be as long as 1,000 characters.
Of course, the Internet can be a perfect venue for carrying out a prank. But that means on April 1, the World Wide Web is full of gags. Did you catch any that PCMag missed? Tell us about it in the comments.
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