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9to5Google Log Out: What Google whimsy looks like without April Fool’s

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9to5Google Log Out: What Google whimsy looks like without April Fool’s

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Tomorrow is April Fool’s and it’s a good bet that Google, after a three year absence, won’t be participating.

  • 2017 | 2018 | 2019

Google once called April Fool’s a “tradition and a time to celebrate what makes us an unconventional company.” That formal description came in 2020 when Google decided to call off the festivities “out of respect” for the global pandemic.

While April Fool’s wasn’t the biggest way Google expressed whimsy, it certainly felt like a pillar alongside the dessert naming scheme used for the world’s biggest operating system.

Of course, that went away in 2019 for a more formal “Android” + version number. In retrospect, it was incredible that a major piece of software was named after KitKat and then Oreo. It added an absolutely extra (and by definition unneeded) dose of whimsy to each year’s launch. But it did get people talking, and there was value in that. Maybe not enough to justify keeping the tradition, but it did contribute to a sense of fun.

I’d argue that the experimentation done in one-off apps also contributed to the whimsy. (The original Spaces tool comes to mind for some reason.) Area 120 served that role for some time, though it stopped doing more consumer-focused apps towards the end, and the group is now entirely done for. One criticism of these “random” apps has been a lack of focus, but people find new apps exciting to explore, especially free ones. It’s a shame that Google no longer has a division dedicated to letting those experiments get out there.

Google still has Doodles on the Search homepage and Chrome New Tab Page. That’s unlikely to change given the cultural significance the themed logos have taken, while Google Search is home to a perpetual parade of Easter eggs. Looking at the rest of the company, the most recent and promising example of whimsy is Dynamic Color.

We’re a few years into it now, but having your phone take after your wallpaper is pretty delightful and unexpected the first time you use it. It’s playful and a good differentiator for Google’s platforms as it expands beyond Android phones and tablets to Chromebooks, Wear OS, and other form factors. Even if Dynamic Color just remains the realm of system UI (and first-party Google apps) there’s enough consistency there to set apart a Google OS.

Google’s hardware teams are also not afraid to offer products in fun colors. Offering a yellow (Lemongrass) and blue (Fog) Wi-Fi router is pretty unique when you consider how unnecessary it is in the grand scheme for the device. The same can be said of Pixel Buds Pro with its tiny circular surface area that’s barely visible, but something you’ll always see (and enjoy) as you take the headphones out of the case.

Other highlights include:

  • Froggy from Google Weather on the Android app and Nest Hub clock face
  • Calendar’s monthly illustrations in the Schedule view
  • How the FAB in Google Keep for Android expands when you create a new note
  • Emoji Kitchen
  • The smiley face when you have over 99 tabs open in Chrome for Android
  • Easter eggs in Google Maps, including the ability to change the design of your car in navigation mode
  • Google Photos Memories can be awe-inducing
  • Tap-to-pay transaction animations in Google Wallet/Pay

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Source : 9to5google.com

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