Google's April Fools' prank puts Pokemon in the real world
The search giant's latest addition to its Maps smartphone app includes 150 "catchable" Pokemon, part of a hoax we can only hope foreshadows augmented reality uses down the line.
Nick StattFormer Staff Reporter / News
Nick Statt was a staff reporter for CNET News covering Microsoft, gaming, and technology you sometimes wear. He previously wrote for ReadWrite, was a news associate at the social-news app Flipboard, and his work has appeared in Popular Science and Newsweek. When not complaining about Bay Area bagel quality, he can be found spending a questionable amount of time contemplating his relationship with video games.
An augmented reality Pokemon game utilizing Google Maps sounds too good to be true. Unfortunately, on the eve of April Fools' Day, Google is pulling a fast one on diehard Pokemon fanatics, albeit in the best way possible.
Using a slick, well-produced YouTube video featuring some unprecedented augmented reality software, Google launched a fake competition wherein one person who seeks out every Pokemon hidden in real-world locations can join Google in the role of the Pokemon Master.
Google has been known to pull a prank or two -- in recent years more like a dozen -- every April since 2000, with the effort getting seemingly more involved and epic in scope each year. In 2013 alone, Google announced YouTube was shutting down for 10 years to pick a "winning video," debuted a treasure hunt mode for Google Maps, announced a beta launch of a smell-searching product called Google Nose, and released a fake Gmail update that was said to make the product better by making it the color blue.
So the Google Maps Pokemon Challenge is but one of what will likely be a large number of hoaxes to continue rolling out today and tomorrow. The video showcases some extreme scenarios and illogical feats, like rock-climbing with your Nexus 5 to seek out a hidden creature in a cave and attempting to catch a rare Pokemon mid-parachute descent as it whizzes by.