Thursday, December 20, 2012

Google and NORAD Say Competing Apple Maps Santa Tracker Will Ruin Christmas for Kids

SAN NARCISO, Calif. (Bennington Vale Evening Transcript) -- The North American Aerospace Defense Command (NORAD) has been tracking St. Nick's seemingly impossible, one-night trek across the globe for over 57 years. The holiday tradition began with a misprint in a Sears advertisement that allowed children to phone Santa Claus. The typo, however, routed the calls to NORAD, which at the time was known as the Continental Air Defense Command. Instead of reaching the North Pole, callers were directed to the agency's chairman, the secretary of defense, and even the president. Colonel Harry Shoup decided to instruct his team to give the excited children details about Santa's trip. Today, families gather around computers, smartphones, and tablets to follow Santa's flight through NORAD's ubiquitous app. But Google, which partnered with NORAD in 2004 to offer geo-location services for Kris Kringle's journey via Google Earth, is now unveiling a competing app built around more accurate route algorithms. On Thursday, Apple surprised the industry when it informed users that the Google and NORAD apps would not be available for download in the iTunes store. Instead, Apple evangelists will be forced to use the dubious and often erroneous Apple Maps feature, which has made many consumers nervous. Google and NORAD worry that the erratic and confusing directions will ruin the holiday fun for millions of kids.

Even diehard Apple enthusiasts offered harsh criticisms of the new mapping system, which has been responsible for an unprecedented amount of misdirection and inconvenience. Not only does Apple Maps lack the popular features of its Google predecessor, the Apple version is plagued by geographical errors and missing information. For example, a farm is listed as an airport, roads simply end in the middle of nowhere, an entire city has been replaced by an ocean, and literary buffs seeking out Shakespeare's birthplace will find instead a hospital.

Said one United Airlines official after testing the system for use in the cockpits of the carrier's planes, "Once I spun up Apple Maps, I knew we weren't leaving the ground. I'm no cartographer, but I'm pretty certain the Atlantic Ocean separates New York from London -- not a Costco parking lot -- and that Rhode Island is not part of the Hawaiian archipelago."

Representatives from NORAD and Google declined to comment in full on their competitor's entry into the Santa Tracking market, but one government source was overheard calling the decision "pathetic."

Even Scott Forstall -- the former iPhone software development executive who was asked to resign after failing to apologize for the app's disastrous performance and chilly reception -- told a reporter that he felt "terrible" about his potential role in "ruining the excitement and joy of Christmas for millions of children who are likely to watch Santa's sleigh crash into Mt. Vesuvius, which will probably be displayed in the middle of an Indianapolis petting zoo."

(c) 2012. See disclaimers.

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