Google changes name to Topeka, introduces text-based videos

Google unveils 14 pranks on April Fools' Day

It’s definitely April Fools’ Day again: Google has changed its name to “Topeka,” in honor of the city in Kansas that temporarily changed its name to “Google” last month.

And just to confuse users even more, Google has introduced a new, groundbreaking feature for YouTube that allows viewers to watch videos in a stunningly low-definition text-only mode. 

Google has always had fun on April Fools’ Day, and upped the ante this year with no fewer than 14 pranks. 

In changing its name to “Topeka,” Google is now using the name on its home page and explains in the official company blog:

“Early last month the mayor of Topeka, Kansas stunned the world by announcing that his city was changing its name to Google. We’ve been wondering ever since how best to honor that moving gesture. Today we are pleased to announce that as of 1AM (Central Daylight Time) April 1st, Google has officially changed our name to Topeka.

“We didn’t reach this decision lightly; after all, we had a fair amount of brand equity tied up in our old name. But the more we surfed around (the former) Topeka’s municipal website, the more kinship we felt with this fine city at the edge of the Great Plains.

“In fact, Google Mayor Bill Bunten expressed it best: ‘Don’t be fooled. Even Google recognizes that all roads lead to Kansas, not just yellow brick ones.’”

Visitors to YouTube were greeted with a new option TEXTp option for watching videos in text-only mode, which Google claims will save the company $1 per second.

“It’s great news that there are 24 hours of video uploaded to YouTube every minute, we support 1080p and HD uploads are rising quickly, but that’s also meant increasing bandwidth costs cutting into our bottom line. And so, in our drive to keep expenses under control, we’ve decided that April 1 is the perfect day to take the important step of offering a new way to experience YouTube: text-only mode, or TEXTp.”

“TEXTp is the result of months of intense transcoding efforts by our engineers, who toiled for weeks to ensure that a large chunk of videos on the platform could be reduced to their most basic elements. By replacing the images in the video with a series of letters and numbers, the videos are far less taxing on our system -- and have the added benefit of promoting literacy!”

All of Google’s 2010 April Fools’ pranks have been listed already by the obsessive users of Wikipedia, and include the following:

*A new option in Google Books to read digital books in 3D.

*The ability to store anything in Google Docs, including physical objects such as keys. 

*Google Street View is now available in Anachrome 3D.

*Google Maps in Australia now features directions with Australian slang phrases like “mate” and “chuck a left.”

*Google’s search results show the time taken to load results in different units such as microfortnights and nanocenturies.

*A new animal translator that bridges the language gap between animals and humans.

*Standard voicemail for Google Voice.

*Google added an “evil bit” to its API to differentiate legitimate API traffic from malicious actions.

*New “wave” notifications for Google Wave have humans wave at you when Google Wave has been updated.

*Google Annotations Gallery, “an exciting new Java open source library that provides a rich set of annotations for developers to express themselves.”

*A new Japanese keyborard that looks like a drumkit and includes a single key for each Japanese character.

*Gmail has lost its vowels. It's now called Gml.

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Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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