OffBeat

You better watch out: Google is tracking (and calling) Santa

Google has once again set up its Santa-centric goodies for the young and the young at heart.

Beginning tomorrow, you can start stalking the jolly old elf on your computer or even on your phone. And if you need to get Santa on the horn, you can leave messages or schedule a call from him to a loved one or friend using Google tools.

Googlers teamed up with NORAD, the North American Aerospace Defense Command, which has been “tracking Santa” since 1955. Each year on Christmas Eve, the “NORAD Tracks Santa” program follows Papa Noël as he departs from the North Pole and delivers presents to children around the world.

NORAD’s site now incorporates data from Google Maps and Google Earth so we can “see Santa’s sleigh flying over the Amazon Rain Forest, the Great Wall of China, the skyscrapers of New York, the Golden Gate Bridge,” as a spokesperson wrote in an email to VentureBeat. The tracking begins on Christmas Eve at 2 a.m. Eastern Time, about 13 hours after this publication, and the site offers some kids’ games (along with some truly horrifying MIDI tracks) between now and then.

In addition to the NORAD site, you can now also see Santa’s path on Google Maps for mobile devices.

If you’d also like to send a personalized phone message to wish someone a happy holiday, check out Send a Call From Santa. You can customize the message with favorite gifts, names, places and more. While it will cause anyone under the age of eight to loose their daggone minds, it’s a hilariously corny call to set up for your older friends, too.

And of course, Santa uses Google Voice. If you’d like to leave him a message, just call 1-855-34-SANTA.

Go set yourself a reminder to show the Santa Tracker to the young ones on Christmas Eve, schedule a “call from Santa” to strike some shock and awe into the hearts of those leaning toward the “naughty” list, then get offline and go spend some time with your family, you Internet-obsessed nerds.