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Richard Branson buys Pluto? The Best April Fools Pranks 2011

Google, Ikea and Kodak added to the pranks this April Fools Day.

Yes, it’s the first day of April, so it’s that time of year again – the day when we have to sift through the news carefully, watching out for the obvious pranks, hoaxes and other April Fools Day shenanigans.

In recent years it’s become a tradition for websites to join in the fun with their own spoof product launches and news items, and this year is no exception. April Fools Day 2011 has seen the launch of ridiculous new products by Ikea, Kodak and Google (the Google hoaxes are becoming a tradition in their own right), while there have also been fake news items announcing everything from Richard Branson buying Pluto to the ‘fact’ that Kate Middleton is actually a Kennedy.

Here’s our pick of the best April Fools Day Hoaxes for 2011 (note: some of these links may be removed by the websites after April 1st!):

Google launches Gmail Motion. Just as we’ve started to get our heads around the new Xbox Kinect, Google announced their own motion detection control system – Gmail Motion. Download the program and you can control your email functions via your webcam, by striking a series of semaphore-like poses. The open-armed ‘Report Spam’ pose is particularly fetching. As with all the best pranks, its strength lies in its believability, and this wouldn’t have been the weirdest technical innovation we’ve seen this year. Still, hitting a key seems a lot easier than completing a yoga routine to empty your Inbox. Check out the Gmail Motion announcement here.

Ikea launches the Hundstol. Ever wanted to feed your dog at the table, but it’s just too difficult to lean down with their chow? Swedish furniture store Ikea solved the problem this April Fools Day with The Hundstol – a highchair for dogs. The product retails at $59 and apparently includes built-in feeding bowls, comfort pad grips for stability, and a hole for the dog’s tail. Check out the Hundstol video on Youtube.

Harry Potter spin-off comes to FX. Worried about where you’ll get your Harry Potter fix now the movies are ending? Fear not – according to IGN, FX will be showing a new spin-off series called The Aurors starting this July, a cross between Rowling’s books and a Criminal Minds-style cop show. Yes, of course they will… Read more and watch The Aurors trailer here.

Kodak turns your photos into tattoos. In recent years we’ve been able to put our holiday snaps onto everything from mugs to cushion covers – and now you can go one further, and have them put on your body. Kodak announced today that their new service would turn your pictures into tattoos, with an 8″x10″ tattoo costing a mere $69.99, and full chest wraps available on demand. The fact that it also doubles as SPF 20 protection was just the icing on the cake. See Kodak’s photo tattoo page here.

Richard Branson buys Pluto. That’s right – Virgin has taken its space-bound plans one step further, and purchased Pluto. Branson also plans to have it reinstated as a planet using a custom-built deep space vehicle to alter its status. How? Virgin rocket scientist Professor Chelovek Protaprilia tells us: “The vehicle has a special harness to collect asteroids and space debris, which it will drag into Pluto’s gravitational field, increasing the planet’s mass.” Priceless. Read the ‘Virgin buys Pluto’ announcement.

Kate Middleton is a Kennedy. Vanity Fair joined the April Fools party this year too, with what may be the day’s best story. Apparently British Princess-in-waiting Kate Middleton is actually a missing member of the Kennedy bloodline. Not only that, but they claim that “she speaks with a hard Boston accent—her A’s so broad that even a Sox fan would blush”, and she has “a ‘JESUS HATES THE YANKEES’ tattoo on her lower back”. Let’s hope the royal family see the funny side. Read the full Vanity Fair article here.