A Dozen Easter Eggs
Google's Easter eggs aren't the big secret they used to be. We've been keeping track of them for a few years now, but Google plants so many practical jokes around the Web that one list (or even two) isn't enough to hold them all. So just in time for Easter, here's yet another basketful of our favorite Google Easter eggs, gags, and hoaxes.
Beatbox With Google Translate
The staccato of the German language is a bit musical, isn't it? Perhaps that's why Google Translate becomes a beatbox when translating German to German. To make beautiful music, create short words from "p," "k," and "z," and throw in an occasional "bsch" for good measure; then click the beatbox button.
Watch Out for Niniane
Niniane Wang is a former Google engineering manager who worked on Google Desktop Search, Gmail ads, and the now-defunct Lively virtual world, but she'll probably be best remembered for winning a bet that memorialized her in Google Maps. Searching for "Niniane" in Maps pinpoints Google headquarters, along with a message that used to read "Niniane Kicks Ass," but now reads "Niniane Kicks Sesame Seeds." Stranger still, she also has a place page with user reviews.
Meet 'Android the Terrible'
The Android mascot may look warm and fuzzy (or cool and smooth, as the case may be), but it won't hesitate to tear Websites apart. To see for yourself, head to google.co.uk, type "meet android" and press I'm feeling lucky. Note that you must have Google Instant turned off.
Google Digs ASCII
Google goes old school with text art if you type "ascii art" into the search bar. And that's not just some JPG mock-up, either; the Google logo is actually composed of American Standard Code for Information Interchange, even if it's not the most elaborate example.
Have a Cow With Body Browser
One of the best of Google's April Fool jokes from 2011 lives on at an amusing URL: http://bodybrowser.googlelabs.com/moo.html. It's the Body Browser that shows off Web acceleration in Google Chrome, but with a cow instead of a human. Check out all those stomachs!
Google's mobile team was late to the April Fool's Day party this year with an off-kilter take on smartphone search. Entering "tilt" or "askew" into the search field knocks the results out of whack. But if you stare at those results too long, everything will start looking a little funny.
These days, the Google Doodle department seems prepared to commemorate anything and anyone--including you. Regrettably, Google no longer allows users to edit their birthdays in Google Profile; but back when you could, Google would celebrate your arrival on this terrestrial realm with a festive Doodle on the Google home page, along with some confetti on the profile itself.
This Page Is Not a Big Truck
As a play on Alaska's late Senator Ted Stevens' remarks about the Internet--you know, "it's a series of tubes" and all that--entering "about:internets" into the Chrome omnibar once loaded the classic 3D pipes screensaver from Windows. This Easter Egg is no longer available, perhaps in deference to the stricture not to speak ill of the dead.
RSS Cheating With the Konami Code
The surest way to an old-school gamer's heart is through the Konami Code, a point not lost on the Google Reader team. So entering Up, Up, Down, Down, Left, Right, Left, Right, B, A dresses up the sidebar with ninjas, and sets all unread counts to 30. Because if you're like me, that's how many lives you'll need to get through every article in your feed.
The Zombie That's Safe to Eat
Aw, look at the cute little zombies! They're all just hanging around, yapping on their phones, while the Android mascot stands there, looking oblivious and rather content next to its undead Gingerbread buddy. To find this image in an Android 2.3 phone, go to the settings, open About Phone, and then scroll down to the bottom and tap the version number a few times. The hard part? Finding a handset that actually runs Gingerbread.
Comic Sans Gets Some Respect
This one's just an April Fool's joke that's come and gone, but it's also one of Google's better gags. On April 1, typing "helvetica" or "comic sans" into the search field turned all text into comic sans, which is widely regarded as the worst font ever. Google also announced that all products will eventually use comic sans, and that Chrome users could catch an early glimpse of this not-so-serious future by installing a special extension. Unfortunately, it's no longer available.