Google Maps’ Santa Tracker Goes Live on iOS

Google’s Santa Tracker went live today, allowing anyone with Google Maps installed on an iOS device to keep up with Santa’s mythical journey across the world in real time.

Users can type ‘track santa’ into the Google Maps search field to view the area in which Santa can be currently found dispensing gifts. Tapping the blue Santa icon in the bottom right of the screen offers up more details about the region, including a live video feed and an arrival time for Santa’s next stop as well as the user’s current location.

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We’ve received this special preview from one of Santa’s many developer elves, who are hard at work in the North Pole helping Santa prepare for his big day. 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.

Further down the screen are options to play a selection of festive mini games, watch videos of Santa going about his business, and access a portal to Santa’s village.

Friendly elves have invited younger Google Maps users to explore the village, where they can learn about holiday traditions around the world, play games like Present Bounce and Penguin Dash, visit North Pole airport, code a snowflake, and take a Santa selfie, as well as other fun activities.

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Google’s Santa Tracker continues a 12-year tradition for the company, allowing excited children and parents to keep up with the jolly gift-giver’s travels throughout December 24.

As of writing, Santa was last seen in Urup, in the Kuril Islands, with his next scheduled stop being Onekotan.

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Google Maps’ New Location Feature Lets You Check How Crowded a Store is in Real Time

Google has announced a new feature to its Search and Maps apps that enables Black Friday shoppers to know how busy a store is in real time.

Dubbed “crowd control”, the live feature comes on the back of the company’s Popular Times feature, introduced last year, that lets users check how busy a place typically is at different times of the week.

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Just in time for the Black Friday swarms, we’re adding a real-time look at how crowded a place is right now, to help you decide where and when to go. Whether you’re rushing to pick up a last minute gift or seeking a lively bar for some festive spirit, check Popular Times for a sneak preview of what to expect when you arrive.

The feature works by crowd-sourcing anonymized location data from other Google users and also feeds in Google searches to analyze how busy a location is at any given moment.

In addition, Google is also introducing a new way of checking how long people typically stay at a particular location, thereby allowing users to plan their itinerary ahead of time and to the minute.

The features augment the apps’ existing location information, which also now includes individual department and service hours for stores, businesses, restaurants. The added times are meant to help users know what time they can, say, use the pharmacy at the local drugstore or supermarket, or to find out what time food delivery begins at a nearby restaurant.

Many retailers offer steep discounts on popular items on Black Friday in order to attract customers, with Apple products frequently being included in these sales. To keep track of all the best Apple-related deals, be sure to visit MacRumorsBlack Friday roundup page.

Google Maps is a free download on the Apps Store for iPhone and iPad. [Direct Link]

Related Roundup: Black Friday
Tags: Google, Google Maps

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Google to shut down Map Maker, its crowdsourced map editing tool

google-map-maker Since 2008, Google has run an online tool called Map Maker that allows anyone worldwide to contribute data to Google Maps. Now, that tool is shutting down. The company announced today in its online forum for the project that the Google Map Maker service, as a standalone product, is retiring in March 2017. However, crowdsourced contributions to Google Maps are not ending, the company noted… Read More

Google Maps urges users to vote with its new polling place finder

screen-shot-2016-11-08-at-9-24-20-am Google has been working throughout this election to make voting information more accessible, and today that continues with an integration in Google Maps that will help users find their polling place. When you launch Google Maps on web or mobile and prepare to type into the search box, a banner pops up at the top of the screen which reads, “Find your Polling Place.” Clicking on… Read More

Google Maps Adds Food Delivery Support in New Update

Google tonight updated its Maps app, adding food delivery support for popular services like Grubhub, Seamless, Eat 24 and more. The update also makes it easier for users to find plus codes and to take and add photos within the app.

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Food delivery support is available on many restaurant pages within Google Maps. There’s a new “Place an order” option above the restaurant’s phone number and below the menu. When users click the option, they’ll be presented with a choice of food delivery services that support that restaurant.

The new option is currently limited based on country, and not all restaurants are supported. If there’s only a single food delivery service listed for a restaurant, Maps will list it in a lighter font color next to “Place an order.” Once clicked, the app will instantly boot the user to that app.

Additionally, Google has made it simpler to figure out plus codes, which are location identifiers. Just drop a pin anywhere, swipe up the “location card” and click on the unique code, which will instantly be copied to iOS’ clipboard. The plus code can then be easily shared with friends or family.

Finally, Google has also streamlined the ability to add and take photos within the app. There’s now an “add photo” option under the photos of an established location, like a restaurant or business. The app now allows you to either take a photo directly or import a photo from the user’s library.

Google Maps for iOS is available on the App Store for free. [Direct Link]

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Google shuts down Panoramio

2016-10-07_1754 Panoramio, the location-centric photo sharing service Google acquired in 2007, will show its last image on November 4. For the longest time, Google used Panoramio to augment its Google Maps and Google Earth services with crowdsourced imagery. Now that the company has integrated photo uploads into the Google Maps mobile apps and launched its Local Guides program, Panoramio clearly isn’t… Read More

Google Maps Adds Curated Restaurant Recommendations In NYC, San Francisco And London

Screen Shot 2015-09-02 at 4.12.08 PM Google Maps on Android is getting an upgrade today that will make the app, often used for getting directions or accessing business information, a better guide to local restaurants, too – at least in select cities. With an expanded feature set that focuses on offering recommendations, along with ways to filter listings by time of day, vibe (like “family-friendly” or… Read More

Google Introduces Uncomplicated Pay-As-You-Go Model For Its Maps API

TechCrunch Google Maps The Google Maps API has been a mess when it comes to pricing. The company is making moves to clean that up with a newly announced pay-as-you-go model. Here’s what the team said today about it: In this new purchasing structure, the Google Maps Geocoding, Directions, Distance Matrix, Roads, Geolocation, Elevation, and Time Zone APIs remain free of charge for the first 2,500 requests per… Read More