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Google's Santa tracker can teach kids how to code this Christmas

Google's Santa tracker can teach kids how to code this Christmas

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Like millions of private citizens around the world, Santa Claus is under surveillance. This December, thanks to Google's Santa Tracker, people will be able to keep tabs on the mythical gift-giving demigod, following him on Christmas Eve as he crosses the planet to hand out presents. Google tracked Santa last year too, but this time around it's not content to just follow him on the night before Christmas — instead, it's set up residence in his village.

Google has set up residence in Santa's village

Every day in December will open a new option on the company's Santa Tracker, an interactive township styled to look like Saint Nick's snowy home. The village offers whimsical videos and games — including a scrolling sled ride in which Santa has to guide his vehicle down an icy track — but is set to include more educational fare. Click on the globe, for example, and you'll be able to learn about Christmas traditions around the world. Google says that as more options unlock further into December, users will also discover how to say Santa in different languages, and will be able to complete a short coding project that teaches basic Javascript.

Features of last year's Santa Tracker return, including the option to send a call from Santa to your loved ones, and the option to stream Santa's journey to your TV on Christmas Eve using its Chromecast dongle. These features, plus the ability to access the interactive village via Android app, show that Google is trying to make its Santa-stalking suite more advanced than its rivals' attempts. Google teamed up with long-term Santa trackers NORAD in 2012 to follow Father Christmas, but the military body switched its allegiance last year, siding with Microsoft to release a mobile Santa Tracker. The war on Christmas has begun.