Google's annual April Fool's pranks include YouTube shutting down, Google Nose

Posted By GABRIELLE LEVY,  |  April 1, 2013 at 9:18 AM
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Google's recent "announcements" sending you into a panic?

Don't worry -- it's April 1, and the search giant is just rolling out its annual slew of pranks. This year, they range from the absurd to the truly disruptive.

The biggest prank, so far, appears to be the shutdown of the indispensable video site, YouTube.

In a video announcing the "change," YouTube communications director Tom Liston said the site would stop accepting new videos.

"After eight amazing years, it is finally time to review everything that has been uploaded to our site and begin the process of selecting a winner."

Explaining that YouTube was launched in 2005 as a contest to choose the best home video on the Internet, the video features cameos from viral YouTube stars such as "Bed Intruder" guy Antoine Dodson, "Where the Hell is Matt" Harding, Charlie "Bit My Finger" and Harry Davies-Carr, David "After Dentist" Devore Jr.,

Liston promised YouTube would be back online -- in 2023 -- with just "the winner and nothing else."

"We always said that this shouldn't be a popularity contest," said YouTube CEO Salar Kamangar. "'Gangnam Style' has the same chance of winning as a video with 40 views of a man feeding bread to a duck."

Prizes for winning the best video on the Internet, Liston said, include an MP3 player and a $500 stipend.

YouTube will be announcing the nominees for 12 hours a day for two years (or a least, for today).

(Last year's YouTube prank was called the YouTube Collection, and promised to put the best of the viral site on DVD.)

Over at Search, a new function called "Google Nose Beta" made its smelly debut overnight.

Like smell-o-vision for the Internet, Nose purports to add smell to the list of searchable categories.

"Our mobile aroma indexing program has been able to amass a 15 million centabyte (scent-abyte?) database of smells from around the world," said Doug Smith, the engineering lead on Nose.

Nose offers examples such as "daisies," "fear," and "diaper."

"In the fast-paced world that we live in, we don't always have time to stop and smell the roses," said product manager Jon Wooly. "Now, with Google Nose Beta, the roses are just a click away."

"If you have a question like, what does a new car smell like, Google Nose," Smith said.

At Maps, Google has followed up its 8-bit world with Treasure Mode.

According to the introductory video, the Google Maps Streetview team, while conducting an underwater index of the Indian Ocean, came across a trunk containing maps it says belonged to William "Captain" Kidd.

Treasure Mode is intended to crowdsource the Captain's code to find his hidden treasure, with puzzles and clues revealed by sunlight or heat.

Other day-after-Easter eggs hidden across Google's many networks include Gmail Blue ("it's Gmail, only bluer") and "bettar spell chek" ("Ask Google for suggestions!").

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