It’s Countdown-to-Christmas time, which means it won’t be long until a certain big red Christmas icon comes to town. You already know that Santa Claus can see you when you’re sleeping, but did you know that Google can see him too, as he makes his way around the globe on Christmas Eve?
The Google Santa Tracker will chart St Nick’s journey around the planet in real time but it will do a lot more than that in the run up to the big day. The site features a fun animated countdown plus a veritable sack-full of goodies; like child friendly videos and games. It will even teach kids how to code.
It also gives Google the chance to get one over NORAD, their former partners in Santa Tracking, until the organisation defected to Microsoft, last year.
Since then, the internet has been the battleground for Santa Wars: Google going head to head with NORAD and Microsoft to get kids excited about Christmas.
This year, NORAD and Microsoft have upped their game with an app for iOS, Android and Windows Phone. Users of the latter can even ask Windows Phone’s resident PA-bot, Cortana, for updates simply by asking “Where is Santa now?”
The big question, for now, is which Santa Tracker will you choose?
If you’re going for experience it has to be NORAD, who’ve been tracking ol’ jelly belly for more than fifty years.
It all started in 1955, when a Sears ad was printed in Colorado Spring, encouraging kids to call Santa Claus and make their Christmas wishes. But there was a problem. The ad gave the wrong number.
It wasn’t a direct line to Santa’s North Pole HQ. It wasn’t even the line that the store had set up to take calls on his behalf. It was a hotline for NORAD (or CONAD as it was known then) Director of Operations, Colonel Harry Shoup.
Colonel Shoup was bemused upon receiving a call, which didn’t warn of an impending Soviet attack on the US, but rather came from a small boy who wanted to pass his Christmas list to Santa Claus.
Incredibly, as more calls came in, Shoup ordered staff to provide every kid with Santa’s polar coordinates. The rest is history; not to mention one of the best true Christmas stories around.
Nowadays, NORAD has powerful competition in the form of the world’s favourite search engine.
The good news for the rest of us is that we’ll know exactly where that reindeer powered sleigh is at all times on Christmas Eve, and we’ll know just when to get the milk and mince pies ready.