April Fools' 2017 roundup: The pranks start early this year

April Fools' Day [HOLD for upcoming Computerworld usage]
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It is April 1, which means pranks abound all over the interwebs. We here at Computerworld are taking one for the team, doing the hard work of researching the best pranks around so that we can share them with you. It is a thankless job, but somebody's gotta do it. 

Everyone is getting in on the fun this year -- so many that we couldn't possibly include them all. But the ones that made the cut are sure to make you laugh. 

So pull up a seat and put down your coffee -- because if you don't, you are bound to spray a mouthful all over your computer screen. 

Google Gnome

Google Home has made our homes smart, but our yards have remained decidedly un-smart. No longer -- with Google Gnome, your home's outside can be just as smart as its inside. 

Google Gnome will help with all your outdoor needs, from telling you the weather and the direction of the wind to turning your garden hose on and off. Just make sure you remember to only ask Google Gnome outside requests, don't let the dog lick it (it tickles), and try not to send it into an existential crisis with deep questions.

T-Mobile Onesie

T-Mobile is known for pushing the envelope when it comes to wireless coverage, but the company is stepping up its game this year with its first ever wearable: the T-Mobile Onesie

Previous wearables were limited in what they could track. How could a watch possible monitor your entire body? The Onesie solves that problem, tracking everything from your heart rate to your bladder level. 

The Onesie, which comes in different designs, such as sports, comfort and work, was created by weaving 4G LTE nanofibers into the Onesie, covering the wearer in the network, so that the user can act as a human hotspot. Not to mention, it is so @#$%ing comfortable. 

T-Mobile CEO John Legere, the self-described "genius visionary" behind the Onesie, describes how the Onesie combines his love of wireless technology, fitness and magenta fashion. It is cyber meets Versace.

Netflix Live

Live video is all the rage, and Netflix is getting in on the game with Netflix Live. The new service gives Netflix users what they have always wanted -- a live stream of Will Arnett giving a stream of consciousness commentary on the video you are watching. (Sign in to Netflix and search for Netflix Live for an example.) 

So you want to know what watching Netflix Live is like? During a video of a microwave, Will Arnett is saying, "I'm trying to read what it says on the top of the microwave there. I think it says..."microwave." I need an eye check. I've always thought that the only reason I didn't become a jet fighter is because of my eyesight." It doesn't get much better than that. 

Progressive Red Planet Protection

Humans living on Mars is no longer a questions of if -- it is a question of when. So shouldn't we all be prepared for the inevitable?

That is where insurance company Progressive comes in. Its new offering, the Red Planet Protection plan, will make sure you are ready for whatever comes your way when you are living off-planet. You can get protection for your jetpacks, rovers, aircrafts and more. And don't forget -- alien theft is real, and you need coverage that will stay with you, even if you are 140 million miles from home.

progressive insurance april fools Progressive

Google Wind

The Netherlands is a great country to live in, but it has one big downside -- the rain. In the Netherlands, it rains 145 days a year. But thanks to the Google Cloud Platform, that will not be a problem for long.

Google is harnessing the power of Holland's 1170 windmills and is using them not to capture the wind, but to create it. The company used the Google Cloud Platform to understand how, well, clouds behave, and then used machine learning to get all the windmills to work together. 

Not only can Google push the clouds away, guaranteeing clear skies in the Netherlands, the company can manipulate clouds to make it rain, when needed, in certain areas. One note: you just may want to eat inside from now on. 

Lexus Lane Valet

We've all been there: Cruising along in our luxury car in the left lane of traffic, looking damn good, when we get stuck behind what is undoubtedly not a luxury car, driven by someone not nearly as attractive as we are, going entirely too slowly to be in the fast lane. Total downer, right.

Now Lexus has come out with a new feature that will take care of the problem. With the push of a button, Lane Valet will detect the vehicle ahead that is cramping your style and initiate semiautonomous control over the car, connecting to its onboard systems. It will then scan the adjacent lane for traffic, moving the car over if it finds none. You can then cruise on, unobstructed. 

Chromebook accessories

Chromebooks are great laptops, but with Android apps coming to them through the Google Play store, something has been lacking. 

The Chrome OS team finally figured out what: Chromebook accessories. We have selfie sticks, Google cardboard and armbands to use while working out for our Android phones -- why not for our Chromebooks, since they can have the same apps? 

Consider the problem solved, and whip out those Chromebooks to take the perfect selfie. 

selfiestick chromebook april fools Chromebook

iFixit Micro Tech Toolkit

Technology components are getting smaller and smaller, but the tools we use to fix them haven't been, which is clearly a big oversight by the tool-making community. But iFixit is changing that, with the new Micro Tech Toolkit. 

The toolkit comes with a magnetized driver handle, an easy-to-open tool roll, micro pliers, a micro spudger, a micro opening tool, and three precision bits. Best of all, everything is tiny, perfect for tiny repairs, and the whole thing will fit easily into your current toolbox. At $19.95, this is a must have.

Roku SnackSuggest

Nothing goes better together than a show and a snack. But sometimes, we just don't know what pairs perfectly with Stranger Things, or what will best complement Breaking Bad

Roku is aiming to take uncertainty out of the equation with its new feature, Roku SnackSuggest. After streamers set their taste preferences and alert Roku of any dietary restrictions, the streaming service will always know what goes best with a binge session of Game of Thrones (mutton, chicken wings and ale, for the record). Happy streaming!

roku snacksuggest diet settings April Fools' Roku

Lyft Mono

Ride-hailing service Lyft has made it so you can request a car with just a few taps on your phone. But in today's world, is that really easy enough?

Short answer: No. That is why Lyft has come out with Mono, an autonomous ride-hailing glove of sorts that lets you request a Lyft by simply raising your hand, similar to how people hitched a ride back in the olden days. 

Amazon Echo Petlexa

Amazon Echo has made it so that every person in your house can interact with technology, but up until now it has been overlooking one important part of the family: your pets.

No more. Thanks to Petlexa, your pets can now interact with your Amazon Echo just as easily as you can. Alexa will track your hamster's steps, order sushi for your cat and activate your dogs automatic ball launcher.  All it takes is a squeak, a meow or a bark. 

Google Maps Pac-Man

Getting directions these days is just so ordinary. You put in your destination, Google Maps tells you how to get there. It gets the job done, but there is no excitement in the process.

Well, now there is, with the introduction of Ms. Pac-Man into Google Maps. Now, when you open the app, you are greeted with a circular Ms. Pac-Man icon above the "Go" and "Location" icons you normally see. Press it, and Maps brings you to an entirely new location and turns into a Ms. Pac-Man game. So go ahead and play -- you never know where you'll end up. 

google maps pac man
Rebecca Linke/IDG

Duolingo Emoji language course

Many of out texting apps now automatically suggest an emoji when you type in certain words, but who among us is truly fluent in emoji?

Not enough of us, that is for sure. So Duolingo, a company that creates software to help you learn new languages, has taken matters into its own hands, with its new Emoji language course.

According to Duolingo, Emoji is spoken by more than 2 billion millennials around the world, but few others are fluent. In an effort to preserve their native tongue, volunteers fluent in Emoji have created the Duolingo course for free. 

“People 💙 to 💩 on emojis, but in a relatively short 🕐, they’ve far eclipsed their precursor, Egyptian hieroglyphics, and set the 🌎 standard of 📱 among millennials 💅,” said Yuna Kode, one of the selftaught Emoji experts behind the course.

So what are you waiting for? Start to learn Emoji today. 

duolingo emoji April Fools' Duolingo

Honda Horn Emoji

Do you sometimes feel like you just can't convey the appropriate emotions through your car horn? It is a shortcoming in our cars that we have put up with for far too long.

Now, thanks to Honda, we can fully express ourselves through our car horn with Honda Horn Emojis. This driver-to-driver communication system gives you a myriad of expressive horn sounds to choose from. The smiling emoji gives a happy Honk, while the annoyed face emoji lets you commiserate with other drivers stuck in traffic. The Honda Horn Emoji is helping build today's tomorrow, today.

Haptic Helpers

VR and AR experiences have nearly mastered the visual and audio simulations, but leave taste, touch and smell out of the equation. Well, Google aims to put and end to that, and their solution, Haptic Helpers, will revolutionize VR and AR experiences. 

Google has found that the best way to enhance a VR or AR simulation is by sending actual people to help you out. Trying to smell a flower? Haptic Helpers will hold one under your nose. Want to feel like you are sitting in front of a fire? Haptic Helpers will shine a heat lamp on you. And if you want to try out Haptic Helper yourself? Well, you can sign up as a beta tester. 

Dash Energy

Humans do a lot of different things to give us energy. But sometimes coffee and eating right just aren't enough, and we need a little extra boost. 

Enter Dash Energy, based on OnePlus' Dash Charge technology, which gives your gadgets power in a flash. OnePlus is applying that fast charging technology to the human body, so that we have unlimited energy and never have to sleep again. Dash Charge your life

Hulu Hu

Everyone is busy these days, so who has time to watch an entire TV show? That is why Hulu has come out with Hu, which abbreviates your shows into digestible eight-second segments. You'll be able to discuss the latest episodes of your favorite show at the water cooler, putting in only the minimum amount of time required to stay up-to-date.

mindy hu April Fools' Hulu

Prysm Avatar

Businesses today are spread across the world, and you can't always be at a meeting in London when your office is in San Francisco. But Prysm's new tech will help you connect with your colleagues, no matter where they are.

With Prysm Avatar, a drone equipped with a holographic projector will display your likeness in life size, so that you can collaborate with your co-workers from afar. Use the accompanying app to send your avatar to meetings, walk with colleagues in the halls, and even change your avatar's clothes. The drone is also integrated with Synapse 2.0 so that you can control your avatar with your mind.

Quilted Northern uSit

Wearables monitor our heart rate, blood pressure, the distance we have run and a slew of other movements. But Quilted Northern has come out with a wearable device that measures an entirely different kind of movement. 

uSit is a biometric bathroom tracker that lets you record all your toileting data, including frequency and duration. It also lets you share your sits with friends, set personalized sitting goals, and gives you badges for longest sits, speediest sits and outdoor sits. 

You can defend your throne with battle sits, and get motivated with a go coach for tough sits. Like all good wearables, uSit syncs across all your devices. It is also available for the littlest sitters in your life in a uSit mini model.


Copyright © 2017 IDG Communications, Inc.

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