Google is allowing users to embrace their inner Jedi or Sith, jumping on the "Star Wars" bandwagon before the new sequel opens next month.
The company introduced a tool that lets users customize the appearance of their Google apps ahead of the Dec. 18 release of "Star Wars: The Force Awakens." Depending on whether the user chooses the dark side or the light side of the force, Google Maps comes with a X-wing or a TIE fighter as a cursor, while YouTube's progress bar is a lightsaber. More changes will come ahead of opening night, Clay Bavor, head of Google's product management, said in a blog post Monday.
Google is joining companies from toymakers to game developers seeking to benefit from what is set to be the year's biggest debut. The seventh installment of the "Star Wars" saga and the first since Walt Disney acquired franchise owner Lucasfilm in 2012 could be the all-time U.S. box office champ with $762 million in ticket sales, topping "Avatar," according to an estimate by film researcher Boxoffice.com.
In seizing on one of the hottest popular culture events of the year, Google is also trying to one-up Apple Inc. in their competition to win over users with an all-encompassing list of features. It's also an effort by Google to incorporate more mobile apps into the desktop experience. Some of the Star Wars apps will only be visible on desktop devices, such as Chrome, Gmail and YouTube, according to The Verge.
"We've got more coming between now and opening night -- the Millennium Falcon in all its (virtual reality) glory included, so stay tuned," Mr. Bavor said. "And we've hidden a few easter eggs, too. So awaken the Force within, and be on the lookout for things from a long time ago in a galaxy far, far away…"
-- Bloomberg News