This year’s effort, offered as both an online portal and an Android app, features a digital Advent calendar with a new activity to try each day throughout the month.
As usual, there’ll be games to play, stuff to watch, and chances to learn. Interestingly, this year’s Santa Tracker gives children the opportunity to try their hand at some super-basic coding, with 10 festive-themed challenges to complete. If your kid finds them a little too simple and wants to try something more challenging, there’s a link at the bottom of the webpage that’ll take you to Google’s Made with Code site offering a bunch of other exercises and related information.
And of course, be sure to look out for Santa’s all-important dashboard, launching on the site on Christmas Eve. The interface, which lets kids keep an eye on the big man in red as he makes his way around the world delivering prezzies, devouring mince pies, and guzzling sherry, features “the latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and sleigh engineering,” the company says.
For anyone after an iOS app offering similar functionality, check out the tracker from the North American Aerospace Defense Command (aka NORAD), which has once again partnered with Microsoft, among other companies, to offer kids lots of online goodies in the run up to December 25.
NORAD’s Santa-tracking service was born 60 years ago after a Colorado Springs newspaper misprinted a ‘hotline’ phone number for kids to call Santa. The erroneously printed number belonged to NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Aerospace Defense Command (CADC), which of course received countless calls from excited children who wanted to chat to the rosy-cheeked gift giver.
Fortunately, the CADC operators were happy to play along, giving updates on his progress – much to the delight of the calling kids. The simple error led to an annual tradition, with companies like Google and Microsoft taking it to a whole new level.