April Fool's Day 2013: The best stories from around the web

It's that time of year again when work colleagues dust off their fake dog poos and buttonhole flowers that squirt water, it's April Fools' Day, and that means there's an awful lot of tomfoolery going on out there in World Wide Web land.

And the tech industry is not above having a giggle at its own expense too. In the past, we've had some classic April Fools' jokes played by all manner of gadget companies, big and small. Some, like the iCade iPad arcade cabinet, have even gone on to become real products. Pocket-lint even touted an "iPhone" with our own 2004 gag about an add-on for the existing iPod, years before Apple's first smartphone.

So what better than to sweep up all the internet-posted April Fools' Day products and postings we could find into one mirth-filled place. Hope you enjoy them as much as we have. How many of them fooled you or you family or friends?

Bathstore's world's first vertical bath

Bathstore, the UK retailer that sells, well, baths - and other bathroom furniture, plumbing and accessories of course, but that would be way too long for a URL - has had its April Fools' joke up on its site for a few days. It is the world's first vertical bath.

"We all like a good soak, but with modern living spaces getting smaller and smaller we wanted to find a way to still ensure you could fit a bath in even the tiniest bathroom," said chief Bathstore developer Dr Nisan Aptal. "Once we had the basic design down we tested a series of prototypes and eventually struck on the idea of including air-holes at head-height. We still don't recommend adding bubbles; it can get very foamy in there.

The store even proposed that the Vertical Bath would go on sale at the end of April. It won't. But it's not totally useless as an idea. Apart from having to wait naked in the smallest of spaces while water slowly rises around you, it's quite a... Oh, who are we kidding?

Force-field protection for smartphones

Mobile phone insurance company MobileInsurance.co.uk claimed to have come up with the ideal way to protect your smartphone, a technology that encases it in a Star Wars-style force field. It says it teamed up with a "world-class" physicist who invented a self-activating force field that would spring into action whenever it detected that your phone was in peril.

Unfortunately, the technology only works on small objects with the maximum size being that of "the largest mobile phone in existence". Of course, should such a failsafe protection actually be invented, it would essentially put mobile phone insurance companies out of business. Ha, hoist by your own petard, MobileInsurance.co.uk.

Iron Man suit

Firebox claimed to be exclusively selling an actual, working Iron Man suit for £250,000. The retailer said it was a safe mode version that combined existing military grade technologies with highly experimental technology.

It won't therefore come with weapons, being a consumer version, but Firebox did ensure us that its flight abilities and integrated sensory systems are still fully operational.

The icing on the cake of this splendid April Fools' joke is that it was claimed a full waiver would have to be  signed "indemnifying Firebox in the unlikely event of injury or appearance of arch-nemeses".

Dexter the internet crime sniffing police dog

Cyber crime is on the rise and online fraud and identity theft are major issues these days, that's why the Get Safe Online team have teamed with the City of London Police to utilise the talents of Dexter. He's a police dog that can sniff out crime through a desktop computer.

Of course, it's just an April Fools' joke. However, the threat itself is very real and there's an underlying message to Get Safe Online's story. Both the scheme and the City of London Police are using Dexter and his image to raise awareness about malware and spyware. Online fraud is estimated to cost on average £765 per adult in the UK. That's huge.

"Criminals are developing more sophisticated ways to exploit us online and it's essential to take sensible measures to protect your computer," said Tony Neate, CEO of Get Safe Online. "Online activities that seem completely harmless, such as searching the internet, downloading, playing games and even using email could result in your computer being infected with viruses and spyware if you haven't taken steps to safeguard your computer.

Don't be fooled, is the message. You can find out more at getsafeonline.org.

Beer Suitcase

Another of Firebox's annual bogus products is one that would do rather well for real, we would imagine. It's a suitcase that dispenses beer so that you can take your favourite ale on holiday with you.

It comes with a removable tap, reinforced corners and can dispense the perfect pint, said the retailer. Ballcocks, say we. Mind you, at £69.99 we'd have one off Firebox's hands like a shot.

Toaster.io

In what must be one of the most elaborate April Fools jokes, an entire website, with special press area and high-res imagery, has been set up for the greatest toaster you'll ever see, the Toaster.io, by Bizzby.

Coming with iPhone connectivity, tweet and post to Facebook buttons, and a built-in extinguisher to put out toast that's caught alight, it is even claimed that the Toaster.io can be uploaded with a brand name or logo design that can be burnt into one side of the bread. Brilliant.

Everything was revealed the moment you click to download the iPhone or Android application from iTunes or Google Play respectively. However, the company still asks you to register your interest in case it feels that it is possible to make the Toaster.io a real product in the future. Certainly, we could see some of its feature set working for sure.

Google Maps Treasure Maps

Google loves a good April Fools joke or twenty and we particularly like its addition of Treasure Maps, a new mode on Google Maps that appeared for the day.

"Explore 2D hand drawn landmarks," it says in explanation. "Find hidden treasure chests." Full of piratey goodness, aaargh.

Certainly, the way it transforms any map into an old fashioned, time-stained treasure map is excellent. And Street View is seen through a telescope in sepia tone, which is a nice extra touch. We only hope Google will keep this mode beyond the one day.

YouTube is closing, has been an eight-year competition

After midnight, said competition director of YouTube, Tim Liston, the video site would no longer be accepting entries or new videos. It has, he revealed, been just an eight-year competition to find the best video in the world, reviewing every single clip uploaded to the site in the process.

And to further enhance the gag, the company encourages you to watch as many videos as possible on YouTube before it delete's everything on the site at midnight tonight.

Speaking of which, the video clip that has accompanied this April Fools Day joke is very funny indeed and should be watched immediately. While the gag is not as believable as some out there, the effort put into its creation has to be applauded.

Nokia Seidhr

UK price comparison blog, Recombu, has tried its hand at a convincing April Fools; a hands-on with a new Microsoft Nokia Google Project Glass competitor called "Seidhr".

Named, supposedly, after ancient Norse sorcery - the product uses "Nokia's transparent graphene technology to project a floating interface in front of the user, featuring full motion high definition video." It runs on Windows 8, and uses Kinect technology for what it calls "the Microsoft Visor.

Tech specs, according to the site, include "HD nano-cameras allowing you to take panoramic video and photos, and eye-tracking enabling you to zoom in discretely.

Windows Phone 8 blue screen error message

Some April Fool jokes are way too serious, like the Reddit app, Baconit, that is trying to convince its users that the app can at times force your phone to crash because deep down inside it is based on Windows NT.

It may actually fool some and get them worried, which is not really the point of an April Fools joke really, is it?

Play-Doh 3D Printer

3D printing is expensive, so save yourself some cash and print things in Play-Doh. ThinkGeek's Play-Doh 3D printer is iPad compatible, so you can put together your designs on screen and then print them straight out.

It even includes 3 Play-Doh pots, to get you started. From the look of it, the printer is also incredibly accurate. Should you have the dexterity to draw out an R2-D2, then the printer should manage it. If it was real, of course.

READ: Play-Doh 3D Printer: ThinkGeek's best April Fools yet?

Ikea flat-pack lawnmower

"Helping people to make more of their gardens this summer, the new innovative GRÄSSAX lawnmower offers green-fingered gardeners a compact, lightweight and foldable alternative to the standard, more heavyweight lawnmowers that are currently available on the market," reads Ikea's blurb on its flat-pack lawnmower.

Supposedly, the GRÄSSAX lawnmower can be constructed and packed away in 12 simple stages and stored neatly in the smallest of spaces in-between use.

Ikea designer, Ingrid Lindengreen comments, "We understand that the home is where we have the most fun with the people we love - this definition should stretch outside too. When we were designing GRÄSSAX we were conscious that people live with little or shrinking garden space. That's why, GRÄSSAX is designed to be stored easily in a small space, it is easy to assemble, environmentally friendly and affordable!" Ha.

Twwtr

Twitter's April Fool's involves it shorting its name even further to save more space when it comes to using your 140 characters.

"Starting today, we are shifting to a two-tiered service: Everyone can use our basic service, Twttr, but you only get consonants. For five dollars a month, you can use our premium 'Twitter' service which also includes vowels." it says in a blog post. "We're doing this because we believe that by eliminating vowels, we'll encourage a more efficient and "dense" form of communication. We also see an opportunity to diversify our revenue stream. Here's our mockup of the most retweeted Tweet of all time as it would appear in the new Twttr.

Eye of Sauron desk lamp

Frodo and friends should avoid this one, just in case it brings back some bad memories. We love it, however, having not had to brave the trip to Mount Doom. It lights up your desk with minimal fuss and moves its evil eye about, focusing on anything it deems worth watching.

It is painted and finished by hand and has some particularly nice detailing on the Sauron eye itself. Whatever you do though, don't use it as a lamp for your dressing table, this thing reacts badly to you putting on jewellery. The Eye of Sauron desk lamp is available from ThinkGeek.

Guardian Googles

Not happy with Google's efforts, the Guardian's editor Alan Rusbridger has decided to launch his own version of Project Glass after a recent survey showed that 93 per cent of Guardian readers wanted to be more immersed in the news.

"From the printed word to the multimedia tablet, the Guardian has embraced technology like no other newspaper. Now, Alan Rusbridger, editor in chief, unveils the latest exciting step in the Guardian's mission to harness the power of online media: Guardian Goggles, delivering our quality journalism straight between the eyes," claims the paper. They've even made a video.

Virgin Atlantic glass-bottomed plane

Virgin Atlantic is to launch an Airbus A320 with a transparent viewing strip on the bottom. Passengers can therefore look straight down as they fly above the clouds.

"Today we've announced that our world-class engineering crew have been secretly working on the design and production of the world's first-ever glass-bottomed plane, created to ensure passengers can enjoy both an unparalleled flying experience, as well as a selection of stunning landscapes from the comfort of their seats," said the flight operator on its blog.

Of course, it's just more April Fools baloney, but again plays on the idea that it would actually be rather cool. Unless you have vertigo, that is.

Nokia 5AM-TH1N6 Constellation microwave

Nokia could have made a tablet, but instead it has opted to make a microwave - well, if you believe the company's April Fool posted on its official blog.

"We are delighted to announce a significant new extension to Nokia's product offering with the Nokia 5AM-TH1N6 Constellation, a touch-screen microwave oven. The Constellation sets itself apart with a superfast, water-cooled 8-core high-voltage transformer, which brings a combined performance of 5,000 watts to end-users, letting them heat up turnkey meal solutions within seconds," says Nokia.

According to the bods at Nokia, "The device comes with the latest eye-tracking technology, which stops the food from rotating when you look at it, and it automatically adjusts the temperature depending on how hungry you look.

We especially like the idea of one of the features: the PureFood camera, a camera that automatically shares pictures of ready meals with friends and family via social networks.

The Constellation will begin shipping in Q2 at a suggested retail price of €399 before taxes or subsidies. More models, including a mini variant targeted towards people with small appetites, and a 10-inch variant aimed at no one in particular, are also planned. There aren't, of course.

Google Nose

We can write our searches, we can talk our searches, soon we will be able to see our searches, but that's nothing according to Google who has just launched the ability to sniff our searches.

Well, that's if you believe the search giant's April Fool's joke; Google Nose.

"Go beyond type, talk, and touch for a new notation of sensation," says Google, before suggesting that all the information has been expertly curated and arranged in Knowledge Panels that pair images, descriptions, and aromas thanks to the company's in house sommeliers.

The blurb for the accompanying YouTube video says it all though:

"We're excited to announce our newest addition to Search: Google Nose. What do wet dogs smell like? Google Nose! How about victory? Google Nose! Try searching on Google for 'wet dog' and explore other smells that people sniffed for, or visit google.com/nose to learn more. Happy smelling!" Worrying if it ever comes true.

GMail Blue

Google's on typically good form this April Fools, with the unveiling of its latest GMail setup that's been six years in the making: GMail Blue.

"How do we completely redesign and recreate something while keeping it exactly the same? The answer is Gmail Blue." You guessed it, this is GMail only bluer. Not orange, not brown - "brown was a disaster" - it's all blue, blue, blue.

Compose is blue, underline is blue, the font comes up as blue. But despite its sombre colour palette, it puts a warm smile on our faces.

"I think that first thought that comes into the end-user's mind is: 'I can't believe I waited this long for this'," closes the comical promo video. Nice one Google, we look forward to Drive Green and Maps Red.

Sacla Twitteroni pasta

Italian food brand Sacla has added a touch of tech to its April Fools joke this year. Creating, what it calls, Twitteroni pasta out of letters, hashtags and the "at" symbol, the company is aiming at the Twitteratti in the best possible way, through their stomachs.

They are encouraged to write a tweet from the food stuff and then post a picture of it on Instagram. Job done.

"Twitteroni is the perfect mealtime solution for hungry microbloggers," said Alan Dente, head of social media development at Sacla (Al Dente, geddit?). "By combining the immediacy and visual richness of Instagram with Twitter's power of the written word in 140 characters or less, we believe Twitteroni is the ultimate carbohydrate for the smartphone age.

You know what? We'd buy it.

Asus ZenHome appliances

Asus has dipped its techie oar into the April Fools pool with the announcement of ZenHome - a collection of home appliance products with the company's signature "metallic spun finish" design.

Zenbook this isn't. Unveiled on the company's Facebook page, the joke post shows off a fridge-freezer, washing machine and microwave complete with the Asus logo. No word on whether we're talking Android or Windows 8 of course, or some new-fangled operating system.




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