April Fool’s Day 2017 Falls Flat

April Fool’s Day falling at the weekend hasn’t stopped Internet giants coming up with a host of pranks and “fake news” that at least have a playful element. To be honest, though, the major company offerings seem a little lame this year, with the attempts to market real products more brazen than usual.

As usual, Google leads the way with a barrage of bogus stories, though perhaps the most fun is more of a (slightly early) Easter Egg. Just as it did a couple of years back, Google has turned its map app into a video game, though this time it’s Ms. Pac-Man rather than her male counterpart. The game uses real-world street layouts as a game map, though whether you can play in your own location appears to depend on your system and area.

Google’s also put together some rather underwhelming “I’m Feeling Woof” and “I’m Feeling Meow” options for its iOS app, along with a “Google Play for Pets” on Android.

Amazon is also getting in on the pet theme with a spoof “Petlexa” that, predictably enough, claims to be an option for dogs and cats to use the Echo to play games and order pet food.

Probably the best Google offering is a supposed service where a team of workers come to your home with a variety of measures to make sure your senses of taste, touch and smell are stimulated while your eyes and ears are enjoying virtual reality technology.

Several companies have gone for supposed wearables technology, though they also seem quite half-hearted, perhaps because so much genuinely mindblowing tech is already a reality. Lyft claims to have produced a glove that automatically orders a car when you give a thumbs-up, while T-Mobile came up with an internet-connected Onesie because, you know, they have a handset called the One.

IKEA chucked in some social commentary with a Facebook post claiming its Smaland in-store playgrounds would be replaced with sitting pods and tablets (pictured) to reflect the changing nature of childrens’ play time. Judging by responses to the post, this proved all too plausible.

Hulu claimed to have created Hu, a special version of the streaming service for users with a short attention span. It supposedly offers eight second “short cuts” of TV episodes that contain all the key points and gags. Unfortunately most of the clips are only viewable if you sign up to a free trial of the real Hulu.

Tinder took the prize for worst punchline, albeit cheating by delivering a day early, promising to stream a date on Facebook Live. A mere 55 people marked themselves as “attending” the live broadcast which, as you may have guessed, turned out to be a piece middle Eastern fruit sat on a table.

One of the more interesting appearances isn’t so much an April Fool as an artistic experiment. Reddit has launched a section that’s simply a large grid where any registered user can place or change a colored pixel once every ten minutes (slowed down from five at launch). It’s led to some intriguing attempts at collaboration and at the time of writing the image was dominated by some religious commentary, a Romanian flag, and both Luigi and the Reddit logo in states of visible arousal.

And as usual, there’s always somebody who went too far. A mattress company that we won’t give the benefit of naming decided the best bet would be to mock internet culture with “the bed of your memes”, namely the Harambed, covered in the mock fur of a certain Cincinnati Zoo gorilla.