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Friday, December 2, 2016

The countdown has begun: Google launches its Santa Tracker

It’s that time of year again. As Christmas approaches, Google has officially opened Santa’s Village.

That’s right, the countdown to when Santa’s departure on his sleigh to deliver joy around the world has begun. But before Santa departs, his elves are keeping busy, and Google’s making it easy to see what they’re up to with its Santa Tracker service, available on the web as well as on Android and iOS.

More: A look at Christmas tree tech from the 1940s through today

This year, Google says it will unlock a new experience in Santa’s Village every day until the sleigh takes off.

“From sliding penguins to dancing elves, the residents of the North Pole are having the time of their lives, and now you can join in the merriment,” writes Tracy Hepler, an employee of “Google Marketing North Pole.”

Google says there are new games out this year on the web, but four of them are only available on the Android app. For Computer Science Education Week, which runs from December 5-11, the search giant says it’s will “unwrap three coding games to help kids of all ages learn the basics of coding.”

Google is also gifting teachers with an educator resource page featuring lesson plans and educational games on a wide variety of topics.

More: Apple’s Jony Ive made a Christmas tree, and it’s exactly what you’d expect

“Be on the lookout for more holiday cheer throughout the month, and don’t forget to return on December 23-24 (depending on your time zone) to track Santa’s journey around the world as he brings gifts and joy to people worldwide,” Hepler writes.

The North American Aerospace Defense Command, or NORAD, has also been tracking Santa every for over half a century, and this year marks the 61st year. NORAD used Google to track Santa from 2007 to 2011, but in 2012 Microsoft took over with Bing. NORAD launched its tracker on December 1.

The Santa Tracker app is available on the web, Android, embedded in Google Maps, and is even accessible as a Chrome extension. iOS users will have to make do with the mobile web version.

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