Children looking to keep tabs on Santa Claus’ whereabouts have two Internet options this Christmas. After NORAD’s decision to switch from Google Maps to Microsoft’s Bing Maps, Google has started its own Santa-following venture. The Internet search giant’s tracker uses a combination of Google Maps and Google Earth to trace Father Christmas’ annual round-the-world journey.
“While we’ve been tracking Santa since 2004 with Google Earth, this year a team of dedicated Google Maps engineers built a new route algorithm to chart Santa’s journey around the world on Christmas Eve,” said Brian McClendon, vice president of Google Maps and Google Earth.
The North American Aerospace Defense Command has been tracking Santa every Christmas Eve since 1955.
There is now a new Chrome extension and Android app to let you follow Santa. Conversely, NORAD’s apps, which it has worked on in partnership with Microsoft, are available for the iPhone and Android and Windows Phone 8 smartphones.
However, Google’s got more to offer on the entertainment front. It’s built out an entire Santa site where you can provide information about your a friend or family member and have Santa give them a call or send them an audio message via email. There are also a few games. The Santa Racer game lets you navigate Santa’s sleigh through a track and collect presents and the Present Drop game lets you drop presents into moving chimneys.