Google’s Santa Tracker is officially live and counting down the days until December 24 in an advent-calendar-like experience with interactive features that really up the ante from the chocolate in the physical calendars of yore.
That’s right: The 2016 experience includes Santa’s Village, which opened on December 1 and includes new daily features that allow visitors to practice basic coding skills, exercise their geography knowledge, learn different languages and get to know more about charitable organizations like Khan Academy, Pratham Books, Libraries without Borders and Code.org, Google said.
Educational games include Code Lab, which opened December 5 and allows visitors to use coding skills to navigate an elf through the forest to find dropped presents, as well as Code Boogie, in which players use code to choreograph elves' dances.
But that’s not all. Santa Tracker visitors will also find content like Holiday Traditions, an interactive map with clickable pins that educate about holiday traditions around the world such as wearing a toque in Canada and swim trunks in Australia, and Translations, a spin on Google Translate that includes Elvish and helps users “learn the Santa lingo from around the world.”
Additional features include Map Quiz, a geography game that will unlock December 20 and allow players to match the outline of a country to a map.
In addition, Google said it has placed more emphasis on learning this year, adding an educator resource page with activities and corresponding lesson plans.
Something of a holiday tradition in its own right, the Tracker goes live on December 24, allowing Santa fans to follow his progress on desktop and mobile web, as well as Android app, Android TV app and Chromecast “so you can track Santa on the ho-ho-go,” as well as in virtual reality via Cardboard.
Google said there are also four new games available only on the Android app, including the new geolocation game Present Quest that allow players to see how many of Santa's misplaced gifts they can recover.
And, as Christmas gets closer, Google said consumers can ask their Pixel devices or Google Home "Where is Santa.”
“The answer may surprise you,” Google added.
Google also encouraged users to try searching for the North Pole or Santa in Google Maps for Santa's current stop and to search for "Santa" on google.com to see a countdown to Santa’s journey and a holiday-themed results page.