Google is well known for its April Fool's Day "product launches". But many of them are amazingly complicated, with multiple pages, FAQs and complex screen grabs. These aren't just hastily prepared jokes that were thought of the day before like the weak attempts by numerous other firms.
So we've listed our 10 favourite April Fool's day Google faux-launches. Gmail isn't here – despite it seeming like a hoax at the time and being launched on 1 April, that's proved to be no joke. Though we bet someone at Google was enjoying one at the time.
1. Google MentalPlex
After two years of existence, Google decided it was time to have a play with what we'd believe it could do. MentalPlex involved a standard Google search page, complete with a spinning, eye-popping circle that you were meant to peer into to read your mind and determine what you are searching for. A vision of the future? Google even published a full fake FAQ on MentalPlex, too. To be fair though, all the search results were April Fool-related.
2. Google GBall
From Google Australia this year, the Gball page is probably even more amusing than CADIE (see below). "This weekend around the country, the gBall(BETA) will change Australian rules football as we know it." The ball can be found by Google technology when it's lost as well as perform other handy Aussie Rules functions: "gBall vibrates if player agents or talent scouts want to speak to you…find your lost gBall online using Google Maps."
3. The PageRank reveal
A particular favourite of the TechRadar team. After continuing speculation about its PageRank technology, Google decided it would tell us all what was going on. PigeonRank was the result.
"By collecting flocks of pigeons in dense clusters, Google is able to process search queries at speeds superior to traditional search engines, which typically rely on birds of prey, brooding hens or slow-moving waterfowl to do their relevance rankings."
"When a search query is submitted to Google, it is routed to a data coop where monitors flash result pages at blazing speeds. When a relevant result is observed by one of the pigeons in the cluster, it strikes a rubber-coated steel bar with its beak, which assigns the page a PigeonRank value of one. For each peck, the PigeonRank increases. Those pages receiving the most pecks, are returned at the top of the user's results page with the other results displayed in pecking order." Top marks for ingenuity, at least.
4. Google Gulp
The idea behind this fake 2005 beverage was a rip-off of the concept behind the original Gmail – that you had to be 'invited' to get it by somebody who'd already bought it. "You can pick up your own supply of this 'limited release' product simply by turning in a used Gulp Cap at your local grocery store.
"How to get a Gulp Cap? Well, if you know someone who's already been "gulped," they can give you one. And if you don't know anyone who can give you one, don't worry – that just means you aren't cool. But very, very (very!) soon, you will be." Naturally it was a beta…
5. Google TiSP
Possibly the most ridiculous Google fool, though PigeonRank was pretty close. Google's Toilet Internet Service Provider was intended to take advantage of sewage piping to bring 8Mbps broadband to your toilet "vacuum-sealed to prevent water damage". The user would simply drop a cable down the toilet, then flush it. "Mac and Linux support coming soon." The how it works page about 'Going with the flow' is also worth a read.
6. Gmail Paper
Google changed the log-in page for Gmail for this one. "Everyone loves Gmail," read the blurb on the page. "But not everyone loves email, or the digital era. What ever happened to stamps, filing cabinets, and the mailman? Well, you asked for it, and it's here. We're bringing it back."
Another theme with Gmail's fools is that they tend to include amusing fake testimonials on the page. "It's paper, plain and easy. I sometimes find myself wondering: what will Google think of next? Cardboard?"
7. Gmail Custom Time
Another one involving Gmail was more subtle. A new red link in the top right of users' inboxes announced a new feature – Gmail Custom Time. It supposedly enabled users to pre-date messages but "you'll only be able to send email back until 1 April, 2004, the day we launched Gmail. If we were to let you send an email from Gmail before Gmail existed, well, that would be like hanging out with your parents before you were born - crazy talk. It also claimed "Gmail utilizes an e-flux capacitor" – we think Doc Brown would have something to say about that.
8. Blogger "Google Weblogs (beta)
This 'enhancement' for Blogger was billed as "the next revolution in personal publishing". The premise was that Google would use its algorithms to put your best content at the top of your blog page. "Even if your later work goes downhill your previous posts will still shine. Unsure of what to post about? Just click "I'm Feeling Lucky" and we'll "take care" of the rest!"
Some of the features actually sounded appealing. "No more template languages to mess with or sidebars to get right. Our advanced Google algorithms automatically populate your blog's sidebar with the most relevant possible content."
9. Google Romance
From the year after comes this gem. Increasingly Google's fools have become more complex, with extra pages and references elsewhere to support the theme. Romance said that "dating is a search problem. Solve it with Google".
Google also isn't afraid to poke fun at itself and how it does things. "Using our Soulmate Search, [you'll] get back search results that could, in theory, include the love of your life. Then we'll send you both on a Contextual Date, which we'll pay for while delivering to you relevant ads that we and our advertising partners think will help produce the dating results you're looking for."
10. CADIE. Or is it MySpace?
Last night, Google launched Cadie, the world's first "artificial intelligence" tasked-array system. "Tonight we're pleased to announce that just moments ago, the world's first Cognitive Autoheuristic Distributed-Intelligence Entity (CADIE) was switched on and began performing some initial functions."
"Earlier today, for instance, CADIE deduced from a quick scan of the visual segment of the social web a set of online design principles from which she derived this intriguing homepage." Enough said.
CADIE has also seeped into other 'announcements' today, including this one from Gmail.
You might also like How search engines are getting smarter
Sign up for the free weekly TechRadar newsletter
Get tech news delivered straight to your inbox. Register for the free TechRadar newsletter and stay on top of the week's biggest stories and product releases. Sign up at http://www.techradar.com/register