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article imageGoogle's April Fool's 'joke' may have cost Gmail users their jobs

By James Walker     Apr 1, 2016 in Technology
Google is known for its elaborate April Fool's Day pranks, entertaining users each year with harmless new "features" in its software. This year, things didn't go to plan though, with a minion-themed "Mic & Drop" Gmail button allegedly costing users jobs.
"Gmail Mic Drop" was introduced on the Gmail blog this morning and became available to many Gmail users. A "Send + Mic Drop" button appeared to the right of the usual email "Send" button, letting users immediately end a conversation by sending an animated Despicable Me Minion GIF and then archiving the entire thread.
"Email's great, but sometimes you just wanna hit the eject button," Google said. "Like those heated threads at work, when everyone's wrong except you (obviously). Or those times when someone's seeking group approval, but your opinion is the only one that matters (amirite?). Or maybe you just nailed it, and there's nothing more to say (bam)."
In theory, Gmail Mic Drop would give users a fun way to close down conversations with friends on April Fool's Day. After clicking the button, the animated GIF is sent and the conversation archived, hiding replies. In practice, the "feature" proved to be a nightmare though, generating so much negative attention Google was forced to take it offline.
Gmail s  Send + Mic Drop  button wasn t the fun April Fool s Day joke Google planned
Gmail's "Send + Mic Drop" button wasn't the fun April Fool's Day joke Google planned
Google
Google's fatal mistake lies in the positioning of the button. "Send + Mic Drop" replaced an existing button for an actual feature, "Send and Archive." Needless to say, people have been inadvertently sending "mic drops" in some very inappropriate situations.
Gmail's help forum has been flooded with complaints about the button. The general gist of the messages is that users have accidentally sent "mic drops" to their bosses or co-workers after clicking the button, assuming it would "Send & Archive" the conversation as normal. Web developer Andy Baio began a Twitter thread highlighting some of the awkward situations the button has created.
As further insult to injury, Google later admitted that a bug meant the animated GIF was being attached to emails sent normally with the regular "Send" button. Any email sent from Gmail this morning may have had an animated minion tagged along with it, thanks to Google's questionable sense of humour.
A few unverified posters claim to have lost jobs or had their reputation lowered as a consequence of the feature. Many appear to have lost their trust and respect for Google as the company has damaged professional business images by forcing the button onto every user.
"Thanks to Mic Drop I just lost my job," wrote user Allan Pashby. "I am a writer and had a deadline to meet. I sent my articles to my boss and never heard back from her. I inadvertently sent the email using the "Mic Drop" send button. There were corrections that needed to be made on my articles and I never received her replies. My boss took offense to the Mic Drop animation and assumed that I didn't reply to her because I thought her input was petty (hence the Mic Drop). I just woke up to a very angry voicemail from her which is how I found out about this "hilarious" prank."
If "Send + Mic Drop" hadn't replaced a serious function and made it to business inboxes, Google could have been onto another April Fool's Day hit. Instead, it has been forced to admit the fun didn't go to plan, saying it is "truly sorry." The button has now been disabled.
"Well, it looks like we pranked ourselves this year," said Google. "Due to a bug, the Mic Drop feature inadvertently caused more headaches than laughs. We're truly sorry. The feature has been turned off. If you are still seeing it, please reload your Gmail page."
The company hasn't indicated if it will be assisting customers who are claiming to have been personally or professionally damaged as a consequence of the button. Mic Drop should serve as a reminder to other tech companies that abruptly changing a flagship product's interface is a recipe for disaster, especially when it risks destroying the formality usually associated with the software.
Mic Drop isn't Google's only April Fool's Day prank this year. The company also announced Google Cardboard Plastic, a virtual reality headset that "puts the 'real' into 'virtual reality'." Cardboard Plastic is a clear plastic box that the user wears on their head, a solution Google says is lightweight, doesn't require batteries, offers 360-degree spatial sound and full immersion with the world.
More about Google, april fool's day, Gmail, Email
 
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