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April Fools' 2012 roundup

Conan O'Brien has a short-lived reign of terror on Mashable, as he ousted Pete Cashmore, unveiled the future of Twitter and stole the Apple TV prototype.

Google was on top form again this year rolling out numerous pranks online, but the search giant was not the only one to try and pull industry's leg:

Eight-bit Google Maps

In an official blog post on Saturday, Google said that in its “pursuit of new digital frontiers,” it had realised it was neglecting users using classic hardware like the Nintendo Entertainment System.

“Our engineering team in Japan understood the importance of maps on retro game systems. With the power of Google's immense data centres, and support from Nintendo and Square Enix, we were able to overcome the technical and design hurdles of developing eight-bit maps.”

Google even went to the trouble of making a 'limited trial' available on Google Maps.

Gmail Tap

Google went to the trouble of creating a 'limited trial' of its fictional 8-bit maps for the Nintendo Entertainment System.

Imagine replacing the traditional keyboard with just two keys? Now imagine learning Morse-code. In another one of Google's elaborate pranks, the search giant claimed it had landed on the future of typing e-mails on the go.

Gmail Tap is said to be a “revolutionary new keyboard” available as an app download for iOS and Android. In the accompanying tongue-in-cheek promotional video, one Google representative says of the traditional keypad: “It's so many keys, I feel constricted by the keyboard.” While another says: “I just feel very overwhelmed. There are so many buttons.”

“Morse code is perfect,” says one of the fictional developers. “It's just a dot and a dash, what's simpler than that?” Any attempts to download the supposed app were met with an error message. However the promotional video can be viewed on the special page created here.

Google search also got a “really advanced” option that allows users to define searches by including elements such as 'rhyming slang for' and 'subtext and innuendo for'. Other Google pranks included Chrome Multitask Mode, Google Racing, Click-to-Teleport, Google Street Roo, Google voice for pets, Jargon Bot, inter-planetary analytics and Web site optimisation for rotary phones.

Conan buys Mashable

Popular tech news site Mashable turned orange yesterday, and featured an intrusively large pop-up of Conan O'Brien's head.

During his short tenure as Mashable CEO, O'Brien claimed to have “turned the company around” and unveiled a number of tech “firsts” including “the scoop of the century” when he revealed the long-awaited Apple TV or “iTV”. O'Brien also revealed what he believed to be the future of Twitter; 'manual tweeting'. According to O'Brien, manual tweeting solved Twitter's core issues of being too slow and not working on paper. O'Brien's reign of terror was ended when he realised he had not bought Mashable, but instead purchased a fan site for the old TV series 'Mash'.

Notebook company rebrands

The reddit timeline allows users to 'travel through history' and into the future, free from the “shackles” of the present.

On the local front, The Notebook Company claimed it would rebrand to become 'The New iPad Company' in light of the dawn of the post-PC era.

The tongue-in-cheek press release quoted The Notebook Company MD Christopher Riley saying: “We know there might be trademark infringements, but we have discussed it with our legal advisors – and have set funds available to defend such trademark infringement battles.

“We are not new to this as we had to re-brand one of our Web sites to Laptop.co.za/Dell instead of DellLaptop.co.za – and have quite a lot of experience receiving letters from copy right attorneys, Adams and Adams.”

Reddit Timeline

Making online time travel a reality, yesterday reddit announced it was launching the 'reddit Timeline'. The timeline that was introduced to the site is said to allow users to break the shackles of the “present-centric bias rampant on the Internet”.

“In addition to news, we are now able to offer olds, soon-to-bes, and everything in-between. We've taken the most interesting eras of the past and future and condensed them into new areas called 'timereddits',” stated the reddit blog.

“Have you ever wondered what the popular memes were in the late-cretaceous period? Curious to see if cats and bacon will still be around in 42000 AD? Want to have a fireside AMA with Prometheus? Now is your chance to travel through history.”

No joke

In news that some may have wished was a joke, new UK legislation will require Internet and broadband service providers to reveal personal real-time browsing, e-mail and call data to intelligence services.

The legislation will reportedly come into effect “as soon as parliamentary time allows” according to a Home Office spokesperson. In a statement it was said: “It is vital that police and security services are able to obtain communications data in certain circumstances to investigate serious crime and terrorism and to protect the public.”

The collected data will reportedly not include the content of any phone call or e-mail, but rather the dialling numbers and e-mail addresses.

Dude, where's my iPhone?

Another story to break yesterday that was widely dismissed as an April Fools' joke has been deemed to, in fact, be true. 'Two and a Half Men' star, Ashton Kutcher is said to have signed on to play the role of Steve Jobs in an upcoming indie film 'Jobs' which will be directed by Joshua Michael Stern.

Variety reported the film will chronicle Jobs' transition from “wayward hippie to co-founder of Apple”. Production is expected to start in May.

As people began to second guess the news, Variety reporter Jeff Sneider defended the veracity of the report via Twitter, saying it would be featured as the cover story for today's print edition and that Variety editors would never allow a joke on the front page.

* Sony Pictures is also said to be in the process of developing its own film about Steve Jobs' life, which will be based on the biography by Walter Isaacson.

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