Google extends mea culpa over ill-conceived, buggy Gmail Mic Drop prank
What did you think of today’s crop of April Fools’ Day pranks? Successes? Mixed bag? Looking at online reactions, some have clearly resonated better than others, but one that’s pretty unambiguously coming up in the “miss” column is Google’s Gmail Mic Drop stunt. Users were able to reply to messages with a mic-drop animation while also effectively closing themselves off to the thread – and it might have been a cute joke, had it not been so easy to trigger accidentally. As we noted earlier, shortly after activating the feature Google pulled the plug on it, apologizing for causing “more headaches than laughs.” This afternoon Google followed that up with a second apology message, explaining just what went wrong and why things got as bad as they did.
Google cites three main problems with how Gmail Mic Drop was deployed. First, it should have been opt-in, with proper confirmation for sending Mic Drop messages. Google also express regret at its UI design, noting that the Mic Drop button should have been better separated from standard Gmail controls.
Finally, Google admits that its implementation of the prank was buggy, and it was possible for users to do everything right, and not accidentally click on the Mic Drop button, yet still trigger the functionality if a certain series of steps was followed.
We know a lot of users really like April Fools’ Day jokes, and Google’s “functional” jokes (like last year’s Pac-Man map) are often a lot more fun than your standard phony product announcement. Will this year’s misstep cause Google to think twice about this kind of prank going forward? Or at least drive the company to test such pranks a little more thoroughly first? We’re hoping Google’s not too dissuaded, and finds a way to share its sense of humor without messing up too seriously again.