April Fools' Day 2011--who's gonna get you, sucka?

The annual prank fest is once again upon us. Behold the foolhardy brainstorms from the likes of Google (again and again and again), Hulu, Toshiba, and a spacey Richard Branson.

Google Docs Motion is one of many April Fools' Day pranks.
Can you wrap your arms--and your mind--around April Fools' Day? Google is one of many tech companies embracing the spirit of the day--witness, for instance, Google Docs Motion. Google

For years now, the tech industry has been a sucker for the "gotcha" moment every April 1. Teams at companies large and small cook up clever gadgets and widgets and such that sound ever so almost plausible. Or not.

In case you hadn't already noticed, April Fools' Day is here again. A flurry of pranks has descended upon us via the Web. Some of them are quite smart and might just elicit a few chuckles from even the most cynical of us. Others are just plain goofy.

We're keeping tabs on the April Fools' jokes for you below. Sift through them and decide for yourself which of these deserve your accolades and which should have never happened.

  • Google got things going with an innovation called Gmail Motion. Forget the mouse and keyboard--Gmail Motion users can control their e-mail inbox Kinect-style with the movement of their body. Oh, and as one might expect, given Google's history, Gmail Motion is in beta.

  • That full-bodied approach is also on tap for Google Docs Motion. Coming later this year, the option will allow Google Docs users to create documents with gestures. Users can put their fingertips together to make an "O." They can use their upper body and hands to create a "D." Google Docs Motion will have a total of more than 10,000 gestures available.

  • Google has also entered the exercise business. The company announced today that with the help of its new Chromercise workout regimen, Web users will be able to improve their finger dexterity for faster typing speeds. The program uses a "unique blend of aerobic motion and rhythmic accompaniment," Google says.

  • Besides getting its users' fingers into shape, Google is doing its part to save them from saying things they wish they hadn't with its new Voice-alyzer. After an eventful night of imbibing, Google Voice users trying to place calls will need to spell words like "embarrassed" and "Czechoslovakia." If they fail to spell those words correctly, they won't be able to place any calls. Thanks, Google.

The PlayMobile Apple Store Playset.
The PlayMobil Apple Store Playset. ThinkGeek
  • The fine folks over at ThinkGeek have an imaginative new toy available for Apple fans: the PlayMobil Apple Store Playset, which "introduces children to the magic of Apple." The Playset includes a full Apple Store, and more than 60 accessories, mini (or is that nano?) Steve Jobs included. To get fellow Apple co-founder Steve Wozniak--on a Segway--you have to spring for the optional line pack. The whole kit and kaboodle is listed for a not-bad $179.99.

  • Hulu has gone old-school. The company changed up its site to look like the good old days, complete with blinking words and scrolling links. And the best part is, its site now has all the content we all loved in the mid-1990s.

  • Roku is delivering one of the most annoying remotes ever made. The company's new branded remote features all the logos of companies that wanted to advertise on its Roku player's remote. It's ugly, but it's flashy.

  • Roku's branded remote.
    Roku's branded remote. Roku
  • When walking around, there's nothing better than viewing the world in 3D. That's precisely why Toshiba has introduced the new 3D Spectacle, the world's first (and perhaps last) 3D monocle.

  • Qualcomm's Snapdragon processor is all the rage in the mobile market right now, but harnessing the power of the dragon is what everyone is really after. That's why the company has unveiled the Way of the Dragon Retreat--a place where the company's engineers and Komodo dragons come together to "explore the Cosmos together."

  • Google is looking to hire a highly qualified candidate for an important new job: Autocompleter. As users from around the world start to input a query into Google Search, the Autocompleter's task is simple: think about and type out completions to their query. Among the requirements, candidates must have the ability to 32,000 words per minute, Google says.

  • Google's WebGL "body browser" has been replaced--by a cow. Now, when users go to the body browser, rather than being able to look inside a human body, they can see inside a cow. You'd be surprised by how interesting it is.

  • Who knew YouTube has been around for 100 years? To commemorate its long and storied history, the folks over at Google have reverted YouTube's look and feel to its original design in 1911.

  • After the New York Times made waves for putting its content behind a paywall, the Huffington Post has responded by forcing New York Times employees to pay for its content. Everyone else can still access the site's content for free.

  • Who needs Angry Birds when there is Angry Nerds? The folks over at Atlassian have unveiled the new game, which puts nerdy, flying birds in positions to kill pigs. Unfortunately for Atlassian, Angry Birds maker Rovio has already sent it a cease-and-desist letter.

  • There are some out there who say the metric system should be the world's norm. But who knew Macrosoft (not to be confused with Microsoft) would move to the Metric Time System? For reference, each "Metric Day" is made up of 10 Decidays.

  • Our colleagues at ZDNet Australia have a suggestion for Research In Motion: a screenless BlackBerry. At least the device comes with a physical keyboard.

  • Sir Richard Branson, the chief over at Virgin, really loves space. He loves it so much, in fact, that he bought Pluto today. He acquired the planet--he has reinstated it as one--for an undisclosed sum.

  • Those who have some cash to burn and an infant should listen up: baby products maker Munchkin has launched a $1 million diaper pail, complete with diamonds, sapphires, and rubies.

  • One of the biggest issues with April Fools' Day is no one knows who owns it. But Groupon might just have a solution. The company announced today that it has filed a patent application for April Fools' Day. The company says that going forward, "you and your favorite corporate entities are barred from creating or participating in any April 1 prank without the express written consent of Groupon."

  • Reddit is getting in on the April Fools' Day fun with a new service, called Reddit Mold. Every time a user gives mold to another, the number of comments the recipient can load is reduced by 10 . It gets worse. Each time a person receives mold, they will lose the ability to use a letter on the keyboard.

  • For those who love their iPhones more than anything (or anyone) else, MarryYouriPhone.com has a solution. After going to the site, users can enter into marriage with Apple's smartphone and even purchase their official marriage certificate from the site. Isn't that sweet?

  • The people over at Yahoo have finally realized that Flickr is spelled incorrectly. So, when users log into their Flickr accounts now, they will see that the site has been renamed "Flicker." It's about time, don't you think?

  • Web backup firm BackBlaze apparently thinks that backing up all kinds of data is simply too hard. In an effort to make things easier, the company will start backing up a user's Twitter account. The company is now called TwitBlaze. And best of all, those who have up to 100,000 messages will only need to pay $99 per month.

Updated at 10:12 a.m. PT to include more pranks.

 

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