Santa Tracker live: how to follow Santa with Norad or Google

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Santa Tracker hero image

(Image credit: Google)

Happy (almost) Christmas! As we close out another year, it’s time for one of our favorite seasonal activities – the TechRadar Santa tracker! Using the two most popular trackers, NORAD and Google, we’ll be bringing you live updates as St Nick makes his way around the globe.

Santa tracking is now a well-loved tradition, but it all started by accident nearly 70 years ago. As legend would have it, a Sears catalog accidentally printed the Colorado Springs’ Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD) Center’s phone number instead of a Santa hotline in Christmas 1955, and began to receive calls from children hoping to speak to Klaus himself.

Seeing an opportunity for a little festive fun, CONAD began publishing press releases on Santa’s whereabouts every year. The tradition caught on, and CONAD handed over the reins to NORAD (the North American Aerospace Defense Command) after its formation in 1958. 

While NORAD’s Santa tracker has historically been the go-to resource for following Santa’s whereabouts, there are now a plethora of ways families and big kids alike can scout for Kris Kringle.

The best of them is made by Google, which released its own Santa Tracker in 2004. It offers a very different experience to NORAD, but is still just as fun.

Santa Tracker: Norad vs Google

You’ve got two main choices when it comes to tracking Santa – both offer different ways of following jolly ol’ St Nick, but it depends on the experience you’re looking for.

Norad Santa Tracker

Norad Santa tracker

(Image credit: Future)

The original way of following Santa and, some would say, the best. This website, run by the US military, fuses gruff colonels presenting a video about Santa Claus with live, up-to-the-minute info on where the man in the big red suit is.

You can download the app on the App Store or Google Play Store, and from there you’ll be presented with a number of mini games to play as well as being able to follow the progress of the present giving live.

It’s a far more rudimentary experience than other trackers out there, lacking a lot of polish and website design.

However, it’s also the most popular and has the heart-warming history behind it – as well as an army of volunteers ready to take your call to find out where Santa is.

NORAD has also added in an AI chatbot called Radar to help you spot Santa too, if you can’t be bothered with all that talking, which is a bit lovely. But if you can be bothered, then dialling +1 (877) HI-NORAD will do the trick too.

Google Santa Tracker

How to play the Santa games on mobile

SAnta tracker

(Image credit: Google)

Every year, when we publish this guide, we have people wondering how to play the games on mobile as the big ‘PLAY!’ button in the middle of the screen sometimes fails and will only ever give you random games or video anyway. Well, just go to the Santa Tracker site on a mobile browser, click the three lines in the top left-hand corner and see all the games to play. (Note – the ‘install’ option, which tells you to ‘Add to Home Screen’, doesn’t work on iPhones).

A more recent addition to the Santa tracking mix, Google’s Santa Tracker has been going since 2004, combining the power of Google Maps with the savvy knowledge of where Father Christmas is.

While Google doesn’t have the same satellite tracking power of NORAD, one has to assume the search giant has struck a deal with the North Pole to figure out where he is in real time using search and radar and lazers and… stuff. Don’t ask us to interpret the magic.

Backing up the Santa Tracker are a whole host of minigames to play, as well as a month-long website encouraging children to learn to code while they encounter a winter wonderland.

There are some pro-Google tools moments in this Santa Tracker – the Quick Draw game is designed to teach Google’s image recognition Tensor to improve, which feels a bit odd – but it’s a wonderfully-designed site and arguably the most visually accessible way to follow Santa.

You can download the app from the Google Play Store, but in our eyes the mobile site is just as good and accessible for iPhone users, plus Google’s Santa Tracker has the best and easiest-to-use desktop experience, too.

Welcome, everyone, to this year’s Santa Tracker! 

We’ve got a couple of hours until Santa takes off, so there’s plenty of time to set up a special treat for him. Here in the UK, we leave carrots for the reindeer, and Santa often gets a mince pie and some kind of alcoholic tipple such as sherry or brandy, but there are different traditions all over the world. 

In Australia, he gets cold beer to beat the heat, families in Denmark leave out a bowl of rice pudding with cinnamon (called Risengrod) for the elves, people in the US leaves milk and cookies, and in Argentina the reindeer are catered for, with hay and water.

Google's Santa tracker homepage

(Image credit: Google)

You might wonder how we know exactly when Santa will take off and start his happiness-bringing journey around the world, but it’s simple – Google and Norad both have countdowns.

The only problem is that they don’t seem to agree about when he’ll start his trip. NORAD says he’ll be aloft in 7hrs 48 minutes at the time of writing (9am GMT) but Google says it’s 8hrs 48 minutes. We’ll report back in around 8-9hrs as to which of the two was right!

A still from the intro video to Google's 2022 Santa tracker showing Santa and two penguins

(Image credit: Google)

Google’s Santa Tracker site really is a wonderful thing, and I particularly love the little video that plays at the start. It’s enough to get even the hardest-hearted Grinch into the festive spirit. But, if anyone from Google is reading this, I do have a slight issue with it – and it concerns penguins. 

Look, we all know Santa lives at the North Pole. But we also know that penguins are southern-hemisphere creatures. They don’t live in the North Pole. Then again, maybe Santa has flown them out there to help him prepare for Christmas – they do seem quite good at getting him ready for his flight, after all.

Google Home Hub

(Image credit: Google)

Can’t be bothered calling or using the internet with your fingers?

You can use Google Assistant to communicate directly with the patron of presents (either using Google Assistant baked into your Android phone, the Google app on iPhone in some regions or a Google-enabled smart speaker), allowing anyone to say ‘Hey Google, what’s new at the North Pole’ and hear the latest news updates from Santa’s world.

Santa in New Zealand on the Google Santa Tracker

(Image credit: Google)

So, what can you expect to see once Santa takes off? Well, Google uses its Maps technology to plot the bearded one’s progress, as well as providing a helpful tally of how many gifts he’s delivered so far and some useful information about the local area.

NORAD, meanwhile, has the advantage of having actual satellite images of Santa on his sleigh, rather than just a cartoon. Our suggestion: follow both and get double the fun.

Santa on the NORAD Santa tracker

(Image credit: NORAD)

Right. I’m taking a break for a bit – I’ve got my own presents to wrap. Back in a few hours to see how Santa’s preparations are going.

En İyi Ev Ses Sistemi,
Ev Ses Sistemleri Online,
müzik dinlemek için en iyi hoparlörler,
ev stereo sistemi bileşenleri,
Satılık Müzik Seti