Gmail April Fools’ 2008: "Custom Time"

closeThis post was published 12 years 9 months 20 days ago. A number of changes have been made to the site since then, so please contact me if anything is broken or seems wrong.

So when my Internet connection decided to finally come back up this morning after a four-hour outage, I loaded Gmail to find a link reading “New! Gmail Custom Time” in my account. After reading the linked page, I instantly knew it was Google’s 2008 April Fools’ Day joke for Gmail.

First, take the heading: “Introducing Gmail Custom Time™: Be on time. Every time.*” (The asterisk refers to a note at the bottom of the page that “Every time” is used to loosely represent the number 10; see the page for more explanation.)

The instructions give it away even more:

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.

I’ve messed with message times by changing my computer clock in the past, but that was back when I still used a desktop client. This kind of feature joke is what makes me love Google. Last year’s Gmail Paper hoax was equally amusing.

While I’m at it, how about a look at the screenshot Google posted? It’s definitely not present in my version of the application… (That was a sure-fire way to confirm the hoax, because the new feature links only appear after a complete roll-out.)

Another problem here is that the recipient might not use Gmail, in which case how does Google control the status of the email once it arrives in their inbox? Yeah, that’s what I thought.

I have one more thing to gripe about: It makes my user bar into two lines! The link text is so long it causes an unintended line break:

I know it’s my “low” (1024×768) screen resolution. I can just hear everyone saying, “Go widescreen already, dude!” Well, I have news for you: I don’t want to use widescreen, and I don’t have a choice anyway because I have to use the computer I have, which is on loan from my school.

Anyway, despite the little glitches, it’s still a well-crafted joke, probably made in someone’s 20% time. Whoever you are, thanks!

Google Blogoscoped has a big list of Google April Fools’ Day jokes for 2008, though it includes things like the Google Docs Offline announcement, which I don’t think was a joke. After all, Gmail was launched on April 1 and everyone thought Google was kidding. Despite appreciating the humor, I don’t think I can trust anything I see today 100%… All this seemed to start a day early, actually, on March 31. April Fools’ Day is now two days, apparently.


I am an avid technology and software user, in addition to being reasonably well-versed in CSS, JavaScript, HTML, PHP, Python, and (though it still scares me) Perl. Aside from my technological tendencies, I am also a theatre technician, sound designer, violinist, singer, and actor.

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