An Easter Egg is best described as a message or feature which is hidden in a piece of software, be it a DVD, CD, program, or video game. Below I’ve listed 10 Google-related Easter Eggs in no particular order, they are:
1. It’s been fixed now, but it used to be possible to ask Google Maps for directions from – for example – Providence, Rhode Island (in the US) to Rome in Italy (in Europe) and be told that you would have to swim many thousands of miles across the Atlantic Ocean in order to get there.
2. Famous photographer-evader Nessie the Loch Ness monster has been spotted just off the coast of Google. If you set your browser to the Beach iGoogle theme and wait until 3:14am, Nessie will surface from the sea for approximately 60 seconds. The rumour is that Google developers wanted to create a tribute to the mathematical quatity Pi (roughly equal to 3.14159). Similar instances that occur at this time on other themes include the Aurora Borealis appearing in the Seasonal Scape, or kitsune (mythical fox spirits common to Japanese folklore) appearing in the Tea House theme.
3. The Google calculator facility can often be a useful tool, but it is not without its fair share of easter eggs. Have a search for the “answer to life the universe and everything” and see what you get. Ever wanted to know the “number of horns on a unicorn”? Try searching for it now, and the calculator will let you know.
5. If you open up Picasa – Google’s free image software – and use the shortcut Ctrl-Shift-Y, a teddy bear will show up. The more you press it, the more bears will pop up, until they eventually take over the screen.
6. Included in the Spam folder in Google Mail, just above the “Delete” button and where you usually come across advertising spam of some sort, you’ll find various recipes that include Spam as the main ingredient.
7. Hidden within the Google Earth program is a flight simulator. Accessed by pressing Ctrl-Alt-A on the keyboard (or Command-Option-A for Macs), you’re given the chance to try your hand at piloting either a propeller-powered plane or an F16 jet. You’re also given a choice of starting from a number of famous airports. Controls are available, and I recommend you read them, as I crashed even before I’d taken off. Hopefully you’ll fare better, good luck!
8. Google Maps has a tiny character called the Pegman show up whenever you zoom in close enough to experience Google Street Views. Occasionally, depending on the time of year, Google dresses the Pegman up in different costumes. For example, at Halloween he becomes a witch, and at Christmas he becomes a snowman.
9. If you type in “google easter eggs” and hit the”I’m Feeling Lucky” button, you’re treated to a minigame in which you control a rabbit and have to catch eggs which then spell out the word “Google”.
The following isn’t really an easter egg as such, but I thought I’d include it anyway.
10. As part of an April Fool’s joke in 2007, Google decreed that it would be launching Gmail Paper. This system would allow a Gmail user to print their entire account’s worth of emails and have it shipped to them as a hard copy. No amount would be too much, as it was possible to “print one, one thousand, or one hundred thousand of your emails”.