(NEW YORK) — Only on the Internet could you find two tech companies competing to track Santa. Last week NORAD, which has tracked Santa since 1955, announced its new Internet Santa service. While it still tracks Santa and his reindeer on Christmas, it replaced Google Maps with Microsoft’s Bing Maps.
But Google’s not giving up on the business of tracking Mr. Claus. Using its Google Earth and Google Maps products, the Internet search giant is tracking Santa on its own this year with a new algorithm. Yes, that means you’ve got two Santa tracker options to pick from starting Christmas Eve.
“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,” VP of Google Maps and Google Earth, Brian McClendon, wrote on the Official Google blog this week.
The new Santa Tracker doesn’t only live on the web. 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 a friend or family member and have Santa give them a call or send them an audio message via email. There’s 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.
Google and NORAD will begin actually tracking Santa on Christmas Eve. No word on if Santa himself plans to use Google or Bing Maps to get to all his destinations; let’s just hope he steers clear of using Apple’s.
Copyright 2012 ABC News Radio
Doug Criss, CNN
Brian Vitigliano, Holly Yan and Joshua Berlinger, CNN