Given that Bing and Google simply love tearing each other to pieces, going head-to-head in just about every single aspect of web search they can think of, it probably doesn’t come as a surprise that the two web giants are now battling it out over who gets to track Santa this year.
Bing made the headlines last week when it was announced that NORAD, which has religiously tracked Santa’s progress down our chimneys since the 1950s, had dumped Google Maps in favor of its arch rival’s version.
But in true Christmas spirit, it seems that Google is determined to give its younger users what they want – the ability to keep up to date with Santa as his reindeers drag him the length and breadth of the globe to deliver those all-important Christmas gifts on time.
Despite being tossed out into the garbage by NORAD, Google’s engineers have been busy creating their own, independent algorithm to ensure that Father Christmas doesn’t elude anyone this year. As of today, there are now two different Santa trackers to choose from.
“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,” explained Brian McClendon on Google’s blog.
Google’s independent Santa Tracker can be viewed on the web, via a Google Chrome extension, and also through an Android app. Not to be outdone, Bing has made its own Santa tracker available as an app on both Windows 8 and iOS devices.
However, it looks like Google might just have the edge over Bing’s offering. Visually, the interface is far more compelling than the NORAD version. Essentially it’s just a heavily decorated Google Earth, but unlike the alternative the map appears in full screen whilst presenting all the information that it’s rival does. In addition, it has some extra features such as the ability to input your friend’s contact information so that Santa can call them up or send them an email. It also includes a couple of games to keep the kids occupied while they’re waiting for Santa to visit their part of the world. These include the Santa Racer sleigh racing game, and the Present Drop game that involves delivering Christmas gifts into moving chimneys.
As for which Santa tracker is accurate, well that would seems to be the most contentious issue here. At the time of writing, NORAD has Santa pinpointed in Novosibirsk, Russia, seemingly well ahead of Google’s version, which had him located several thousand miles behind in Tibet.