If you run a Google search for the word “askew”, you may think you’ve somehow broken your monitor or telepathically adjusted your display settings. But really, Google has just shifted a few degrees – the same thing happens if you search for “tilt”.
Ever wanted your own personal version of Google, complete with a customised logo? No? Really? I suggest you move on to the next item. Otherwise, you can type “goglogo” into your Google search bar and hit “I’m feeling lucky” (if you’re having trouble with this, change your Google instant preferences or just type the word, then wait for the suggestions and hover over the first option — “I’m feeling lucky” will appear to the right). If you enter your name into Goglogo’s box, you’ll be rewarded with a search page that has been customised with your name.
Could you plot this equation on a graph: “(sqrt(cos(x))*cos(200x)+sqrt(abs(x))-0.7)*(4-x*x)^0.01, sqrt(9-x^2), -sqrt(9-x^2) from -4.5 to 4.5”? No? Well, Google’s built-in graph function can compute all of that mathematical notation and stick the results firmly on the x and y axis to produce a little blue heart. Lovely.
4. The Google translate beat box:
If you type a string of garbled words into Google Translate, and ask it to translate them from English to German, then click the ‘listen’ icon, Google will start beat boxing. The text is “pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk pv zk bschk pv zk pv bschk zk bschk pv bschk bschk kkkkkkkkkk”, but slightly different variations work too — and the beat box rhythm changes depending on how you combine the terms.
5. Google sphere:
Another experiment by the same team that brought you Google gravity, Google sphere transforms your Google Image search page into an interactive spinning orb. To access it, search for “google sphere” and click “I’m feeling lucky”. Then click on the search bar, and chase the swirling links around the screen to your heart’s content. The ‘sphere’ will spin around in different directions depending on where your mouse pointer is positioned on the screen.
6. The loneliest number:
In case you weren’t aware of this, Google’s built-in calculator will confirm it for you: the loneliest number is one. Aww, shame. It can also tell you how to calculate a blue moon.
If you search for the word ‘binary’ in Google, you’ll get the results — but the exact number of results won’t be displayed in the form you’re accustomed to — instead, they’ll give it to you in binary code (that’s 1s and 0s for those of you who don’t speak geek). Something similar happens for ‘octal’ and ‘hexadecimal’.
8. Qing Ming Festival:
If you search for “qingming” (a traditional Chinese festival), Google will decorate your search results page accordingly, painting the white space with watercolour plants, occasional rippling water and some children perched atop blinking cows. If you look closely, you may spot a fish or two leaping from the ‘water’.
Ever get bored while waiting for YouTube videos to buffer? Well, you won’t have that problem again. Just press the arrow keys and you can play a game of snake (it helps if you pause on a solid background, although it is much more entertaining when the blinking dot your snake has to ‘eat’ appears on someone’s face).
The spread sheets in Google Docs are plagued by dragons… and it’s up to you to defeat them! Ok, they’re really not, but you can slay a dragon in Google Docs with embarrassing ease. Just press ‘shift’ and ‘F12’ and you’ll be congratulated on your fine job.
11. Jet ski to China:
If you ask Google Maps for directions from Japan to China (I tried Tokyo to Shanghai), it will give you all the usual traffic routes… and an instruction to climb on board a jet ski to make it across the Pacific. If you try to go from Australia to America, Google will recommend taking a kayak. I’d rather walk to Mordor.
12. Gmail spam and trash:
If you’re a Gmail user and you aren’t suffering from a chronic case of ad blindness, you may have noticed something strange about the text adverts above your messages. Instead of the usual vaguely relevant ad, you’ll see a recipe for some spam dish in your spam folder, and a recycling tip in your trash folder.
13. Gingerbread zombies:
If you own an Android phone or tablet, you may have stumbled upon this easter egg already (although it doesn’t seem to work on all Android devices). If you go to ‘settings’, then click ‘about device/ phone’ and repeatedly tap ‘firmware version’ or ‘Android version’, the device will display artwork relating to whatever version of the OS you’re running. So, if you’re running version 2.3 (Gingerbread), you’ll see the little green android surrounded by a horde of zombies, and Honeycomb users will see a blue bumble bee that buzzes if you touch it. Users with Ice Cream Sandwich will see an army of Nyan cat-ish Androids encased in ice cream sandwiches zooming around in space. Which, I admit, is way cooler than the zombies pictured above (hello, who doesn’t like nyan cat!?), but until someone swings a Nexus in my direction (hint hint), I can’t screen shot it for you.
As some readers have pointed out in the comments, Android JellyBean has a hidden easter egg too — if you tap the version number and then repeatedly poke the Androidified bean that appears, you’ll be be met with a screen full of colourful floating jellybeans (complete with occasional antennae), which you can swish around the screen to your heart’s content.
We’ve also put together some videos explaining how to find the hidden tricks in your phone, Google Now and Google Maps: