It turns out the Nexus Q home streamer has an easter egg. But it’s not the first time Google has played the prankster and slipped a hidden gem into one of its products or services.
Join us as we count down the best of the big G’s easter eggs, throwaway gags and secret tricks.
1 Nexus Q Magic 8 ball
Not only does the Nexus Q look like a Magic 8 ball, it works as one too. Tap it a few times in the right place, and up pops a Magic 8 ball interface on your TV. Ask it a question, and it’ll do its best to answer. It’s more of a novelty than a properly useful feature, with results tending to be more humorous than practical, but hey, that’s what easter eggs are for, right?
2 Android Jelly Bean floating beans
The latest version of Google’s Android operating system has Google Now, a cool feature that organises your life for you. But it also has a couple of hidden extras. Go to the ‘about device’ part of the menu, and you’ll see it says it’s running Android 4.1. Tap that line of text quickly a few times and a smiling robot jelly bean will appear. Hold your finger down on him, and he’ll turn into a whole bunch of beans that float around the screen. Then you can flick them off with your finger if you’ve got far more important things to do.
3 Do a barrel roll
Type “do a barrel roll” or “Z or R twice” into the Google search engine and the screen will roll through 360 degrees. If you’ve never played Star Fox 64, you won’t have a clue what we’re on about, but those in the know remember it fondly.
4 Let it snow
This was a great one last Christmas. Typing the above phrase into the search engine would cause flakes of snow to fall from the top of the screen. The screen would even mist up, letting you rub out patches with your mouse (or draw naughty pictures in it). Hitting the Defrost button would de-mist the whole screen, but where’s the fun in that? Sadly it doesn’t work any more, though Microsoft’s slightly more pants version is still active.
5 Getting from A to B using the sea in Maps
If you follow the directions in Google Maps verbatim you could be in trouble. Try and go from Paris to New York, and at one point it’ll advise you to “Swim the Atlantic ocean (3,500 miles)”. Try to cross the Pacific, meanwhile, and it’ll tell you to “Kayak across the Pacific Ocean”, and if walking from China to Japan you’ll have to “Jet ski across the Pacific Ocean.” Good luck with that.
6 Team Google in Street View
Head to Google’s HQ in Mountain View, California, and you’ll spy the Google team.
7 Peg man togged up for the occasion
The peg man you drag around on Street View wears different outfits depending on the occasion and location. On Halloween he rides a broomstick, on Valentine’s Day he stands on a heart, and in Christmas week he turns into a snowman. Take him to Lego Land in Carlsbad and he’ll be a Lego man. In Sun Valley, Idaho, he’s a skier, while in a certain spot in Antarctica he’ll turn into a penguin.
8 Beatbox translator
In Google Translate, if you set ‘translate from English’ and paste in “pv zk bschk” you’ll enter beatbox mode. Hold the mouse over the speaker icon and it’ll show ‘beatbox’, rather than ‘speak’. Type in combinations of consonants to the translator, and it’ll perform a beatbox for you. Not really a human beatbox, as it’s a computer, but a beatbox nonetheless.
9 Feed Reader ninja
Go to Google Feed Reader, and press up, up, down, down, left, right, left, right, B, A, and you’ll see a ninja appear at the side of the screen. It’s a throwback to the ‘Konami Code’ from many a classic video game, which used said instructions on the menu screen to activate a cheat.
10 iGoogle Loch Ness Monster
Set your iGoogle theme to Beach, and at 3.14am every morning the Loch Ness Monster will pop up for one minute, then go back underwater. Yup.
11 Slay the Docs dragon
Press Shift and F12 in Google Docs, and a message will appear saying: “Dragon slain! Congratulations, you’ve slain the dragon!”
12 The April Fool’s Day onslaught
Not strictly an easter egg maybe, but still worthy of inclusion. This year Google outdid itself, with no fewer than 23 April Fool’s Day pranks. The best of the bunch was news that Google Maps would be released in 8-bit for the NES console. You could even navigate an 8-bit version of the world, for that day.
It also promised to release the whole of YouTube as a DVD boxset, let you control the weather, type using Morse code instead of a keyboard, and sort search results by font. Madness.