April 1, 2012 at 3:00 PM ET
Google again took the lead Sunday for impressive April Fools Day pranks, with its introduction of a self-driving car to compete in stock car racing, and announcing a change to Gmail that gets rid of the pesky keyboard by "taking 26 keys to just two."
Saturday, the Web giant got a jump on the hoax-y holiday by bringing out 8-bit Google Maps for the 1980s Nintendo crowd.
Sunday, the company rolled out Google Racing, "a groundbreaking partnership with NASCAR to help self-driving vehicles compete in the world of stock car racing," wrote Google co-founder Sergey Brin on the company's blog. (Google does indeed have a real self-driving car.)
"We think the most important thing computers can do in the next decade is to drive cars — and that the most important thing Google Racing can do in the next decade is drive them, if possible, more quickly than anyone else. Or anything else."
And there's more.
Google's David Brook gives you a lesson on "Gmail Tap" -- "Every letter of the alphabet is represented by a simple pattern of dots and dashes, and once you know them you can type without even looking at your screen. This makes it ideal for situations where you need to discreetly send emails, such as when you're on a date or in a meeting with your boss."
The icing on the cake? "We're also introducing a new mode, multi-email. Double your productivity by typing multiple emails at once."
Meanwhile, Chrome "Multitask Mode" lets you Web surf with multiple cursors at the same time, "so you can get more done, faster. Welcome to the ambinavigation revolution."
The search giant also Sunday brings you "really advanced search," which lets you search with "rhyming slang" and "subtext or innuendo for ...."
Meanwhile, Sony lives up to its slogan -- "Make. Believe." -- with its April Fools' Day introduction of the VAIO Q quarter-sized laptop "with a gorgeous .75-inch by 1.25-inch high-definition display":
(It comes with an "extra Lithium battery coin," but the "LiveView accessory" (a loupe) and a "docking station" are "sold separately.
(Try to order it on Sony's website, and you'll be told: "April Fools!")
ThinkGeek, the everyday wacky site for all weird tech, has an April Fools' Day special edition out., as well.
Among its product offerings: "Electronic Hungry Hungry Hippos for iPad" -- "The original Hunger Game returns" -- and a "Keurig K-Cup 5-Star Meals" that lets you "brew delicious meals in your Keurig machine."
If the ideas sound out of this world, you have only to turn to British billionaire Richard Branson, whose company, Virgin Galactic, is set to start private passenger service to the edge of outer space in 2013.
Branson "announced" Virgin Volcanic -- to take passengers to the center of the Earth.
"Using patented carbon-carbon materials pioneered for deep space exploration, Virgin is proud to announce a revolutionary new vehicle, VVS1, which will be capable of plunging three people into the molten lava core of an active volcano," Virgin said on its website.
Branson will "go on the first expedition along with Tom Hanks, Academy Award-winning actor and star of 'Joe Versus the Volcano.' "
The billionaire's fascination with volcanoes started when he was a lad, having read Jules Verne's "Journey to the Center of the Earth," he says.
"I decided that one day I would go there too. Alongside our adventures with Virgin Galactic and Virgin Oceanic, volcanoes are the next great unexplored terrain. What can I say, I lava challenge!"
Of course, everything will not be fun or funny on the Internet this April Fools' Day, including wild rumors spread via Facebook or Twitter or elsewhere on the interwebz.
Bookmark this page for updates on more hijinks, and keep checking back, below:
-- Kodak's "Print Your Own Live Kittens!" -- "Select a breed ... wait 90 seconds ... and fall in love." Kudos to the bankrupt company for having a sense of humor.
-- Now you can get all of YouTube's 9 gazillion videos in a DVD set: "As soon as you sign up, we'll dispatch a fleet of 175 YouTube trucks to your home."
-- We all know 3-D is a spectacle, but now Toshiba literally brings you a spectacle: the "world's first an only 3-D monocle," not just for those who don't like to wear 3-D glasses but for those who "just can't wait for glasses-free 3-D."
Toshiba also joked Sunday about its new tablet product: "Shapes," saying "Don’t let right angles and straight edges limit your tablet experience."
-- TechCrunch "reports" that Google's Brin will retire in a year or so to "take up the intense study of blues guitar, sources inside Google say."
-- Reddit goes Facebook and introduces its own "timeline" -- using time-travel technology. "In addition to news, we are now able to offer olds, soon-to-bes, and everything in-between. We’ve taken the most interesting eras of the past and future and condensed them into new areas called 'timereddits.' "
-- More Google craziness (when do these people have time to work?), this time with its "Go Rotary" page, noting "Like the finger wheel on a rotary phone, technology is cyclical. Learn why mobile is on the way out and get ready for the return of rotary."
Also from Google: Google Voice for Pets: "The secret is in our special Voice Communication Collars. The collars fit around your pet's neck and use a series of sensors to record audio directly from your dog or cat’s vocal cords, using technology originally developed for NASA spacesuits. Using your WiFi network, audio messages are uploaded to your Google Voice account within seconds."
Google not only offers voice for pets, it hires them, dogs, specifically, as "Dooglers." A look at the canine "staffing team" and how it works includes this morsel of knowledge: "We receive tons of applications each week from dogs of all breeds, but we try to match the right canine with the right department. For example, Bloodhounds are a natural fit for Search, while Rottweilers are often drawn to our corporate security positions."
Eyewear company Warby Parker also went to the dogs Sunday, becoming "Warby Barker" with its glasses-for-dogs April Fools' joke, and on a "FAQ" page said that dog frames are available in three sizes: "Pomeranian (small), Retriever (medium) and Mastiff (large)."
-- This sendup of the Huffington Post said it all with its headline: