Santa Trackers By Google, Microsoft & NORAD All Want To Find St. Nick First This Year

Before the age of smartphones and listicles, there was no other way to track Santa Claus than by sitting beneath your front window with binoculars and some half-eaten cookies. Now, kids these days can follow Santa with the help of Google, Microsoft and the North American Aerospace Defense Command. Looks like you're not the only person with the tools to see who's been bad or good, St. Nick.

On Tuesday, Google launched its annual Santa Tracker website and Android app, because there's only 21 days and 15 hours before Santa departs from his cozy home in the North Pole (and for you to buy that cashmere sweater set for your mom). Although the true Santa tracking system won't kick in until Christmas Eve, "Santa's Village" will be open for browsing for the next three weeks.

Each day, the village will feature new Google Play videos, games and even a scrolling sleigh ride. These activities are ideally meant for children, but they're fun for grown-ups, too. One in particular is an engaging, interactive map that lets you see how people all over the globe celebrate Christmas. Did you know Argentinians kick off the holiday at midnight, or that there's a legend in Iceland about a monstrous "Christmas Cat" who eats people who aren't wearing their ugly Christmas sweaters? (Evidently, this is a thing, so where your ugly Christmas sweater.)

On Christmas Eve, Google said the tracker will display "Santa's dashboard," or "the technology that powers" Santa's sleigh throughout his global ride. According to Google, the technology was developed by one of Santa's elves — definitely not a Google employee — and utilizes some of the best apps we have today:

Santa’s dashboard - featuring the latest and greatest in Google Maps technology and sleigh engineering - will allow you to follow his progress around the world, and also learn a little about some of his stops along the way.

Although Google hosts the Santa Tracker annually, it's not the only tracker this side of the North Pole. The national command center NORAD has been tracking Santa Claus ever since 1955, when it was then-known as the Continental Air Defense Command (CONAD). That year, confused children kept calling the center after a Sears newspaper ad accidentally included CONAD's number as the official Santa hotline. The calls were taken by even more confused CONAD workers, who eventually "tracked" Santa for the kids and voila — we're still tricking kids nearly 60 years later.

NORAD has worked with Google on its Santa tracking system since 2007, but the agency dropped the tech giant at the end of the 2012. For Christmas 2013, NORAD teamed up with Google rival Microsoft, bringing a little bit of competition to the whole meaning of Christmas.

Microsoft and NORAD also launched its tracker, "NORAD Tracks Santa," this week. Much like Google's Santa Village, NORAD's tracker features games, videos and music. There's even a nifty trailer that, while less colorful than Google's vibrant animations, looks way more official. However, missing from NORAD's tracker this year is its Santa-protecting, toy-giving drone, which generated some controversy in 2013.

NORADTracksSanta on YouTube

So, which Santa tracking system will kids choose? Will they trust the U.S. military or Silicon Valley? Well, one feature that may put Google over the edge is its coding project, which will teach children how to make a short Javascript code while they're waiting for Santa to get a move on. Learning how to successfully code and receiving presents from the North Pole? That can't be beat.

Image: Google Santa Tracker, NORAD