Norad ‘Santa Tracker’ Drops Google Maps for Microsoft’s Bing this Christmas

Only on the Internet could you find two tech companies competing to track Santa. Last week NORAD 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.

After five years of working with Google’s Maps, NORAD has switched to Microsoft Bing to track Santa’s sleigh ride this Christmas Eve. However, that hasn’t stopped Google Inc. from continuing to monitor Santa on its own. Photo: Google Inc.

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. On Wednesday, the North American Aeropsace Defense Command (Norad), announced that it has teamed up with Microsoft Bing to power its annual “Santa tracker” after its previous partner, Google, announced it was launching its own version.

Google is using its Google Earth and Google Maps products, the Internet search giant is tracking Santa on its own this year with a new algorithm.

“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.

Google also wrote:  “On Christmas Eve we’ll be proudly showcasing a preview of Santa’s dashboard — the technology that powers his sleigh during his around-the-world journey…The Google Maps Santa Tracker is created and developed by Google, with a little help from Santa’s elves.”

The new Santa Tracker doesn’t only live on the web though. There is now a new Chrome extension and Android app to let you follow Santa.

Norad, which usually spends its time monitoring the air space above the US and Canada for unexplained or criminal aerospace activity, has “tracked” the worldwide progress of Santa’s gift-giving journeys at Christmas since 1955.

For the past five years, it used Google Maps to display its “data”, which is hugely popular with children, reports the Guardian.

Norad’s Lt. Cmdr. Bill Lewis says it isn’t leaving Google because of any problems.

“It was a mutually agreed-upon split,” Gaudin reports.

Microsoft’s Windows Azure cloud-computing platform and Bing Maps.

Norad is also offering Windows 8, Windows Phone 8, and Android Santa-tracking apps.

What makes the program so special is that more than 1,250 Canadian and American uniformed personnel and Defense-Department civilians volunteer their time on Christmas Eve to answer thousands of phone calls and emails. What’s more, organizations such as Microsoft, Analytical Graphics Inc., Verizon, Visionbox and over 50 others support Norad.

According to the ABC News, Google, however, has got more to offer on the entertainment front. It’s built out an entire Santa site where you can provide information about your friend or family member and have Santa give them a call or send them an audio message via email.

There are 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.

Norad will begin tracking Santa at 2 a.m. Eastern Time on Dec. 24, via the new apps, its website, or email sent to noradtrackssanta@outlook.com

Google will begin tracking Santa at 2:00 a.m. Pacific Time on Dec. 24, via its website, a new Chrome extension or an Android app and its Google+Facebook, and Twitter pages.

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