I hate to be a kill joy, but I think the traditional of internet firms playing April Fool’s jokes may have just jumped the shark.
As is their tradition, Google launched a number of April Fool’s tricks on a not-so-unsuspecting public today including Google Cardboard Plastic, an Android app for searchable socks, and other nonsense.
How the world clutched its sides in hilarity, and then promptly got back to work.
Apart from, there was one problem.
One of Google’s japes was to insert a new button into Gmail, right next to the Send button.
“What could possibly go wrong with that?” I hear you all chorus.
Well, if you made the mistake of pressing the new “Send + Mic Drop” button your recipients would receive an animated gif a King Minion dropping a microphone… as well as the message you sent them.
Which might be very amusing (the first couple of times) if you are casually emailing a friend.
But it’s a lot less funny if you are sending a serious message, responding to a job advert, or - as in one of the examples collected by web developer Andy Baio - making a prayer request.
Perhaps Andy makes the point best in an animated GIF of just how easy it is for Gmail’s dumb Mic Drop joke to go wrong.
Worse still, any email sent with “Mic Drop” is subsequently muted, meaning any replies will waltz past your inbox meaning you won’t get to see them.
Ummm… I can imagine some situations where that might be appropriate, but I can think of a whole lot more where that’s the worst way you can treat email, especially if you click on the button by accident.
Oh, and then there was the revelation that Google’s implementation of the “Mic Drop” functionality was actually buggy - meaning that it could be activated even if you pressed the normal send button! Sheesh…
— Cabel Sasser (@cabel) April 1, 2016
Google has now removed the Mic Drop button from Gmail:
“Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year. Due to a bug, the MicDrop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We’re truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page.”
I know of at least one person who has reacted to Google’s antics by closing down his Gmail account:
“I am totally pissed off at the April Fools nonsense that Google pulled this morning. What other magical things can they do to our mailboxes without our consent?”
I suspect he’s not alone in feeling like that.
There’s enough wrong with email as it is without Google buggering it up further.