This time, the joke's on Google.

I'm a big fan of Google's traditional attempts at humor. Who could forget Gmail Motion or Google Nose? Or how about my personal favorite, Gmail Blue? (Man, that one just never gets old.)

But this year, it would seem the technology giant's attempt at humor went just a little too far.

In a feature called the "Mic Drop", Google allowed users to "have the last word on any email" by replying to messages using the "Send + Mic Drop" button. Doing so would send your message to all recipients in the thread, eliminating the possibility for them to email you back. (Even if they tried to respond, you wouldn't see it.)

Additionally, "Mic Drop" included a (admittedly very funny) GIF of a Minion (from the "Despicable Me" film franchise)...doing what else?

Dropping a mic, of course.

Well, as it turns out, quite a lot of people use Gmail for professional correspondence. Since the "Mic Drop" feature was placed right next to the Send button (replacing the "Send and Archive" option), more than a few persons used the feature unwittingly.

With results that were not so...hilarious.

According to Google, the company received numerous messages from users who had been "negatively impacted" by the feature. As reported on other outlets, one user claimed to have mistakenly used "Mic Drop" when applying for a job. Another said he accidentally sent his boss an email using "Mic Drop". He only discovered what had happened after waking up to a very angry voicemail.

Designer Andy Baio made clear just how bad this could go, with a worst-case scenario mock-up:

 

As you can imagine, Google quickly removed the feature after hearing the feedback.

The good news is, not only has Google apologized, but they've learned a lot from this snafu. In an update to the original blog post announcing "Mic Drop", the company released the following statement:

UPDATE April 1 2pm: We heard feedback that some of you were negatively impacted by this feature, so we quickly turned it off late last night. In addition, we are working to bring back Mic-Dropped messages that had subsequent replies to your inbox, so you can read those.

We realize many of you use Gmail for very important messages, and we are sorry if Mic Drop was in any way harmful to you. Note that if you're a Google Apps business, education or government user this feature was never turned on.

At Google we have a culture of sharing what we learned when things go wrong, and we want to share these learnings with you:



1. We should have asked you before turning on the feature, and it should have included a confirmation before sending.

2. We didn't anticipate accidental clicks: "Send + Mic Drop" was too close to other send buttons ("Send" as well as "Send & Archive"), which caused confusion. 

3. And yes there was a bug. It was rare, but possible to press the regular "Send" button and still Mic Drop if you did the following: 

  • Opened a new compose window
  • Pressed the "Send & Mic Drop" button with no recipients and saw error message
  • Edited the message by adding message recipient(s)
  • Pressed the regular send button.

Again, sorry. We love April Fools jokes at Google, and we regret that this joke missed the mark and disappointed you. 

So, in the end, there's a lot to be learned from this one.

The moral of the story: Maybe it's time to start taking a day off on April Fool's day.

Or at least, save any really important emails for April 2nd.