Curious kids don’t have to wonder anymore about Santa’s travel plans or how long until the big day arrives. The official NORAD Tracks Santa app is now in the Windows Phone Store. The free app features a daily countdown to Santa’s liftoff, then lets kids track his sleigh on December 24 using Bing Maps. If there was ever an app made for Kid’s Corner in Windows Phone 8, this is it. (The app also runs on Windows Phone 7.5.)
The North American Aerospace Defense Command—aka NORAD— is a military organization primarily tasked with keeping a vigilant eye on errant space junk and enemy missile launches—although they’re probably best known for their effort to track Santa’s annual holiday delivery blitz. The service (I’m sure you’re curious) stretches all the way back to December 1955, when a young Colorado girl responding to a local North Pole-hotline newspaper promotion accidentally rang up an unsuspecting duty commander at NORAD’s predecessor, the Continental Air Defense Command. Rather than hanging up, the colonel briskly relayed the latest radar coordinates of Santa’s sleigh. More wrong numbers followed—and a tradition was born. (The Official Microsoft Blog has more of the backstory.)
Today it’s geared to tech-savvy tots. The NORAD Tracks Santa website receives nearly nine million visitors from more than 200 countries and territories around the world. Volunteers, meanwhile, field more than 7,700 e-mails. Leaving no Santa-curious social networker behind, NORAD has established outposts on Twitter and Facebook, too.