The Google Santa Tracker lets you follow Santa Claus as he delivers presents in real time. The dashboard shows where Mr. Claus is going, where he’s been, how many presents he’s delivered, how far he has traveled, and fun statuses like “Mmm those cookies were delicious.”
In typical Google fashion, the tracker is loaded with fun, interactive features and a number of games, including dropping presents into chimneys, a sleigh ride with Rudolph and Santa, and a jetpack race.
You can also send a personalized message from Santa to a phone, via email, or through Google+.
Google has worked with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) on a Santa tracker since 2007, but NORAD went with Microsoft’s Bing this year and Google decided to build its own St. Nick map. I’m tempted to make an Apple Maps joke here, but I don’t want my iPhone to turn into a lump of coal on Christmas.
PC World has a great bit about how NORAD became involved in tracking Santa in the first place:
“How did a military defense agency get into the Santa tracking business in the first place? Back in the bad old days of the Cold War, a newspaper published the wrong phone number for Santa Claus. Instead, it published the direct dial number for the commander-in-chief of NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD).
In the spirit of the holidays, CONAD’s director of operations, Harry Shloup, rolled with the snafu and had his staff field the calls from kids flooding into his agency asking for status reports on Santa. That night, a tradition was born”.
This year, don’t ring up government agencies looking for Santa Claus. In addition to the Google and NORAD-Bing Santa Trackers, you can follow Santa on Google+, download an Android Santa Tracker app, install a Chrome extension, and follow Kris Kringle in 3D in Google Earth. And, of course, the Google doodle today is also holiday themed.