Bad jokes gone bad: Gmail's April Fool's trick misfires
Tech and April Fool's have a long and colorful history, and no company has better embraced the day's traditions than Google. Unfortunately, this year the Gmail either took a joke too far — or just didn't think through it far enough.
feature that Gmail introduced was called
Mic Drop, and added a GIF of a minion, er, dropping a mic (see above) to any message when clicked and then permanently muted the conversation — meaning you missed any future replies. Unfortunately, that button was awfully close the normal reply button — and a glitch meant that even if a user didn't mean to click it, it could be accidentally triggered.
Google has a long and successful history of pranks — the most famous of which might be Gmail itself, which launched on April 1 and promised unlimited storage (with caveats) in an era when most inboxes stored just a few megabytes.
But when you've built an email service users rely on to give the world a professional impression, that trust and delight can evaporate very quickly.
I can't believe how short-sighted Gmail's "Drop Mic" April 1 joke is. It replaces the "Send+Archive" button, and attaches GIFs to sent mail.— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) April 1, 2016
Andy Baio chronicled complaints from Google's own product forums
Google keeps the laughs coming! 24 more hours to go! pic.twitter.com/6WOjjGiZS4— Andy Baio (@waxpancake) April 1, 2016
Accidentally clicked the Gmail mic drop button on an important professional email. Who thought this was a good idea?— J. Nathan Matias (@natematias) April 1, 2016
The mistake might also be a warning when thinking about Google's future products, too:
I am NEVER going to get in a Google self-driving car on April Fools' Day.— Harry McCracken (@harrymccracken) April 1, 2016
We heard feedback that some of you were negatively impacted by this feature, so we quickly turned it off late last night. In addition, we are working to bring back Mic-Dropped messages that had subsequent replies to your inbox, so you can read those. We realize many of you use Gmail for very important messages, and we are sorry if Mic Drop was in any way harmful to you. Note that if you’re a Google Apps business, education or government user this feature was never turned on. At Google we have a culture of sharing what we learned when things go wrong, and we want to share these learnings with you: We should have asked you before turning on the feature, and it should have included a confirmation before sending. We didn't anticipate accidental clicks: "Send + Mic Drop" was too close to other send buttons ("Send" as well as "Send & Archive"), which caused confusion. And yes there was a bug. It was rare, but possible to press the regular "Send" button and still Mic Drop if you did the following:
* Opened a new compose window
* Pressed the “Send & Mic Drop” button with no recipients and saw error message
* Edited the message by adding message recipient(s)
* Pressed the regular send button.
Again, sorry. We love April Fools jokes at Google, and we regret that this joke missed the mark and disappointed you.
The joke feature — bug? — only appeared on normal Gmail accounts, not Google Apps Gmail accounts.