Grading Google's April Fools' Day

Because it's not funny unless it's verified as funny.

Google

Google is the standard-setter of mirth and merriment on April Fools’, rolling out a yearly crop of light-hearted jokes. So we thought, “hey, let’s ruin everything by handing out letter grades!” What follows is a hard-hearted look at all this frivolity.

google
Credit: YouTube.com
Gotta catch em all!

Google got started early, releasing a Maps add-on Monday that lets users catch Pokemon by tapping on their smartphone’s screen. No, YOU got annoyed that they don’t have it on the desktop site.

GRADE: Giving this a solid B. It’s not the cleverest one I’ve ever seen, but Google’s production values are characteristically strong.

Shelfies
Shelfies

Google sends up the digital-age narcissism that it has helped to create by offering this photo-background feature, designed to provide the option for others to set your picture as their Gmail theme. Google finds us so amusing, after all.

GRADE: B+. The best pranks dance as close as possible to the edge of “this could actually be something being done in earnest.”

google pranks
Credit: YouTube.com
Data-less decision-making

An enthusiastic member of Google’s analytics team introduces us to the wonders of making decisions based on stuff that doesn’t make it into data sets, or as Google thinks of it, stuff that doesn’t exist.

GRADE: C+. Cute, but there are no Pokemon or hilarious newspeak terms involved.

google pranks
Credit: YouTube.com
Coffee-to-the-Home

Google Fiber’s contribution to the festivities is a nightmarish fever-dream for Starbucks. Great details abound, including what appears to be a functioning mock-up of the coffee-to-the-home spout, a shot of the “coffee server backend,” and a witty jab at Google’s love of data, in the form of the predictive coffee selector. Also, I loved the people sitting on the floor around the coffee spout.

GRADE: A. Lots of very funny little touches.

Hasselhoff photobombs
Hasselhoff photobombs

I get that we’re all lazy Instagram filter monkeys these days, but surely even the dullest of us can be bothered to shop a picture of David Hasselhoff into our portraits. Barely above a Chuck Norris joke, at this point.

GRADE: D+. This is what it looks like when you spread the funny too thin, Google.

Official viral video trends for 2014
Credit: YouTube.com
Official viral video trends for 2014

There’s something about the idea of YouTube content being centrally planned that will never not be funny. YouTube’s “peek” at 2014’s video trends is awesome, although I’m sort of depressed because I know some people will actually attempt some of these things. Culture has eaten itself.

GRADE: There is a person named Kung Pao O’Reilly in this video, so A. 

WazeDates
Credit: YouTube.com
WazeDates

Crowdsourced navigation app Waze is a recent Google acquisition, and it has hit the ground running with this enthusiastically straight-faced announcement of a traffic-based dating service.

GRADE: B+. Good writing, including lines like: “I’ve always been a big fan of honking, but honking only takes you so far.”

Something from Google Japan
Credit: YouTube.com
Something from Google Japan

I’ll be honest, I have very little idea what’s happening here, but it certainly does seem to be a prank, though given Japan’s predilection for robots and really hilarious advertising, I can’t be entirely sure. Seriously, though, the tie version is the best.

GRADE: A-, I think.

Emoji translation
Credit: YouTube.com
Emoji translation

We need information more quickly than the written word can provide it, so Android and iOS Chrome users can now use “translate to emoji” to dumb websites down enough to read them on tiny screens.

GRADE: B. Funny, but this is almost TOO close to something that someone would do in earnest. And then hold an IPO. Best line: “If somebody were able to just explicitly say, ‘hey, I’m flirting with you,’ or ‘hey, I’m mocking you,’ that would just make my life a lot more efficient.”