Merry (almost) Christmas! Another year is over and it’s time for one of our favorite seasonal events – the TechRadar Santa Tracker! Using two of the most popular trackers, NORAD and Google, we’ll bring you real-time updates on Saint Nick’s locations around the globe.
Tracking down Santa is now a beloved tradition, but it all started with an accident nearly 70 years ago. Legend has it that on Christmas Day 1955, the Sears directory accidentally printed the Colorado Springs Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) center phone number instead of the Santa hotline and started getting calls to Krause himself kids phone.
Seeing an opportunity to have some holiday fun, CONAD began issuing an annual press release about Santa’s whereabouts. The tradition caught on and CONAD passed control to NORAD (North American Aerospace Defense Command) after its formation in 1958.
While NORAD’s Santa Tracker has historically been the go-to resource for tracking Santa’s whereabouts, there are now several ways for families and older kids alike to find Kris Kringle.
The best of these is Google, which released its own Santa tracker in 2004. It offers a very different experience than NORAD, but is still just as fun.
Tracking Santa: Norad vs Google
You have two main options when it comes to tracking down Santa – both offer different ways to track down Jolly St. Nick, but it depends on the experience you’re looking for.
Norad Santa Tracker (opens in a new tab)
Follow Santa the original way, some would say, the best way. The site, run by the U.S. military, is a mix of videos of Santa Claus played by gruff colonels with real-time updates on where the man in the bright red suit is.
Compared to other trackers, it’s a more basic experience that lacks a lot of polish and website design.
However, it’s also the most popular, with a touching history behind it – and a legion of volunteers ready to answer your call to find out where Santa is.
NORAD has also added an AI chatbot called Radar to help you identify Santa, which is kind of cute if you don’t want to be interrupted by those conversations. However, if you don’t mind, calling +1 (877) HI-NORAD can also do the trick.
How to Play the Santa Game on Your Phone
Every year, when we publish this guide, someone wonders how to play games on mobile devices as big as “PLAY!” The button in the middle of the screen sometimes doesn’t work and will just give you a random game or video.ok, just go track santa claus (opens in a new tab) Site on your mobile browser, click on the three lines in the upper left corner and see all the games to play. (Note – the “Install” option that tells you to “Add to Home Screen” does not work on the iPhone).
Google’s Santa Tracker, the latest addition to the Santa Tracking portfolio since 2004, combines the power of Google Maps with the astute knowledge of Santa’s location.
While Google doesn’t have the same satellite tracking capabilities as NORAD, one has to assume the search giant has a deal with the Arctic to determine his location in real time using search, radar, lidar, and… stuff. Don’t ask us to explain the magic.
Backing up the Santa Tracker is a slew of mini-games, and a month-long website that encourages kids to learn to code as they encounter a winter wonderland.
There are a few pro-Google tools moments in this Santa tracker—it feels a bit odd that the Quick Draw game is designed to teach Google’s image recognition Tensor to improve—but it’s a beautifully designed site that’s arguably the most intuitive to follow Way Santa.
You can download the application from google storebut in our opinion, the mobile site is just as good and accessible to iPhone users, and Google’s Santa Tracker has the best and easiest-to-use desktop experience.