Dark or light? Which side will you choose?
The world is slowly succumbing to Star Wars fever once again, and not even Google is immune.
The tech titan published a Star Wars website on Monday that lets users choose their side in the battle to control the Galactic Empire and that transforms their Google apps to suit their allegiance. The Google Maps app, for example, will show your location not with the traditional arrow character but with a Rebellion X-wing spacecraft or opposing TIE fighter.
Built in conjunction with Lucasfilm and Disney, Star Wars Google will keep morphing and getting new features until the latest film, “The Force Awakens,” comes out in cinemas. Google has even gone so far as to promise a virtual reality Millennium Falcon, so you’d better get your Google Cardboard headsets ready.
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Star Wars fans will undoubtedly fall hook, line and sinker for Google’s promo ahead of the film’s release. It’s been 10 years since a movie was released as part of the franchise, and “The Force Awakens” could serve as a gateway for a whole new generation of fans. Google’s effort, however, feels like it’s directly aimed at those who already are fans, with Easter eggs and clever references sprinkled throughout the user experience.
The Star Wars universe is a marketing juggernaut that appeal to an audience of millions, so it’s no surprise Google wants to get in on the action. But it’s clear that more motives than just commercialism motivated Google’s project.
Google gave Star Wars fans in its engineering staff free reign to tweak and expand Google, said Google VP of Product Management Clay Bavor in his blog post introducing google.com/starwars, explaining that the Mountain View, California company is rife with dedicated Star Wars fans.
“You can regularly spot Darth Vaders, dogs dressed like Yoda, and even the occasional stormtrooper roaming the halls of our data centers (probably still looking for those droids),” Bavor wrote.
Google’s Star Wars site seems to be a way of bringing various ideas from the company’s fans together in one place. Without spoiling too many of the surprises, you will find the release date for “The Force Awakens” in your calendar, and you may notice your Gmail is looking a little different. Also check out the Street View man in Google Maps — he’s no longer the familiar mustard-hued fellow.
It’s perfectly possible to change your allegiance if after playing along with the good guys you want to take Darth Vader’s advice and feel the power of the dark side. And if you’ve had enough Star Wars cultural immersion, you can switch it off altogether. The features will remain available until 1 February.