Want to have a little fun with Google today? Ahead of the forthcoming release of “Star Wars: The Force Awakens,” Google has teamed up with Lucasfilm and Disney to build out a new tool that lets you theme its suite of apps, including Gmail, YouTube, Google Maps, Chrome, and many more with either the “Light Side” or “Dark Side,” based on your personal preference. The changes, once they take place, will appear across your devices, including iPhone, iPad, Android, Mac, Windows and Chromebook, expect for Chrome, Gmail and YouTube which will only work on the desktop, says Google.
Effectively a brand advertisement of sorts for the highly anticipated new film, Google says that the idea came about from a number of Stars Wars fans at the company who wanted to work on a Google tribute to “Episode VII” as soon as they heard about the movie.
Even if you’re not a huge Star Wars fan (the horror!), playing around with the new tool is still fun, as this is the first time that you’ve been able to theme all of Google’s apps with just a click. In the past, themes have been more limited – Gmail has its own themes, for example, as does Chrome (by way of the Chrome Web Store), but these things were never tied together in any way.
But now, after you choose your side, you’ll soon see a new look-and-feel for a wide range of Google products including Android Wear, which gets a new watch face; Google Chrome, where movie scenes appear when you open new tabs; Chromecast, which gets new backgrounds; plus themed version of Gmail and Inbox’s email apps, and more.
But it’s not just backgrounds and themes, as it turns out.
Your Google Calendar will fill with Star Wars-related events, for instance.
In Google Maps, the “pegman” becomes a First Order Stormtrooper or Resistance Pilot, and flies to your destination in either a TIE fighter or X-wing.
C-3PO can offer you voice guidance in mapping app Waze, where R2-D2 and BB-8 will also be featured.
Elsewhere, standard loading or seeking bars like those found in YouTube and Gmail turn into lightsabers.
Even Google’s virtual assistant, “Google Now,” gets filled with “this day in Star Wars history” trivia.
More goodies are on the way between now and the movie’s premiere, too, including a virtual reality experience for Google Cardboard and a Star Wars Chrome experiment.
Fans are encouraged on the site to post their choice of sides to social media using the hashtag, #ChooseYourSide, which will help to power the indicator on the homepage that shows the balance of the forces.
And if you want to change sides, you can do so at any time after returning to the Google Star Wars page at google.com/starwars.