In 2012, Microsoft partnered with the North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) to track Santa, leaving the previous partner, Google, out in the cold. Since then, the two tech companies have been dueling every year.
Google claims it has been working on improving “the sleigh tracking algorithm” in time for the big day. As for the Android app, Google says its developers have made improvements so anyone can track Santa from their smartphone, tablet, and TV.
The Google Play changelog hints at a bit more: “Santa and the elves are back for 2014 with new games, a redesigned tracker, updates for Chromecast and Android Wear integration.” So yes, you will be able to track Santa from your wrist this year, too.
Chrome extensions sadly do not have changelogs, so it’s not clear how much is new in Google’s browser. Nevertheless, there is one handy feature worth noting: “This extension will uninstall itself after Santa has finished his journey.”
Right now, it doesn’t seem Google is offering much more compared to what it did last year. Yet the company clearly uses the Santa Tracker as a way to test developing for its own platforms, so we’re expecting a lot more to come throughout the month. In fact, Google owes us at least 23 more daily updates, the Santa tracker tells me.
Microsoft says this year’s site is built as part of the company’s Internet Explorer campaign to “rethink what the web can be.” It features new games, improved performance, and an “optimized mobile experience,” which the company wouldn’t detail.
Tracking Santa occurs with the help of Bing Maps. The website is optimized for touch, from the rotatable globe to the parallax-style navigation.
On December 24, Microsoft is promising users will be able to track Santa on an interactive 3D globe. At every stop along the way, you will be able to click off to a specially curated Bing results page that will feature “fun facts and beautiful imagery for each location.”
The biggest change, however, is that the website now lets you follow the big man around the globe on your mobile device. The website has a responsive design, meaning it will adapt whether you are using PC, tablet, or mobile phone.
Like last year, Microsoft will also let you send your favorite holiday traditions, memories, and wishes to Skype via Video Message so they can be featured on the website. The company also has a NORAD Tracks Santa OneDrive page with free downloadable coloring pages and “other fun content.”
So the question is: Which site will you be using this year?