Right on schedule: Google is releasing their April Fools jokes onto us as the calendars hit April 1 on the east coast (here’s last year’s efforts). Google Australia got a head start earlier today with the very funny Future Search. Gmail’s effort this year isn’t in my opinion as funny.
Gmail Custom Time lets users send emails with a custom date in the past, putting it in the recipients inbox at the old date:
How do I use it?
Just click “Set custom time” from the Compose view. Any email you send to the past appears in the proper chronological order in your recipient’s inbox. You can opt for it to show up read or unread by selecting the appropriate option.
Is there a limit to how far back I can send email?
Yes. You’ll only be able to send email back until April 1, 2004, the day we launched Gmail. If we were to let you send an email from Gmail before Gmail existed, well, that would be like hanging out with your parents before you were born — crazy talk.
Funny? You decide. The team did better last year in my opinion.
But the joke has started a minor Wikipedia war, which makes it more interesting. In describing the technology Google says “Gmail utilizes an e-flux capacitor to resolve issues of causality (see Grandfather Paradox)” and links to the Grandfather Paradox on Wikipedia. Someone changed the words “time travel” to “gmail” in a revision, along with the comment “Gmail starts a wiki-war by linking directly to this article on April 1st…”
The change was quickly put down by the Wikipedia police, of course. And then changed back. And then reversed. You can watch the drama in real time on the article’s revision history page (or feel free to participate with your own flourishes).
I wonder who’ll get tired first.
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