This Christmas 2011, Santa Claus is showing up everywhere in the tech world, from Google Voice and Gmail to the Siri app on Apple's iPhone 4S. Below, find out how Santa Claus tech is changing the holidays, and watch videos to see Siri and Google Voice with a Christmas twist.
Google Voice Brings Santa to American Homes
Google Voice users may remember Christmas 2010, when Google gave holiday fans their ultimate easter egg: giving Santa his own phone number and setting up personal messages from Jolly Old St. Nicholas on your answering machine.
This year, Google is taking holiday cheer one step further.
Google Voice users can call Santa's Google Voice number (855-34-SANTA) directly from their Gmail accounts, and the Send A Call From Santa site has had some amazing Christmas features added to make the message customized.Users can now program the message according to gender, name and other details to make the holiday phone message special.
Although there are some strange and silly options for adults, from notes to your sushi-loving friends to a message in gangsta slang, the Santa Claus message is designed for kids, and includes options for those who don't celebrate Christmas, from Hanukkah and Kwanzaa to seasonal holiday greetings.
Calls from Gmail are free for users in the U.S. and Canada.
Below, a young boy gets a call from Santa using Google Voice:
Santa Uses Siri?
Apple, meanwhile, is wasting no time taking advantage of the holiday spirit (and the shopping sprees that are sure to accompany it).
In a new Christmas-themed ad, Santa Claus is seen using Siri on his iPhone 4S to ask directions to a child's house, get a weather report, search through his naughty and nice lists, get a message from Mrs. Claus and check out to 3.7 billion appointments he has on the day's schedule.
Go easy on the cookies, the electronic and still rather stilted voice tells Santa from Mrs. Claus, eliciting a chuckle.
The charming TV ad shows how much Apple is counting on the iPhone 4S to be a big seller this Christmas season, and is using Siri as its main selling point.
Siri has had some flubs in the past, including some crazy answers to questions like where to hide a body and the controversy that arose when it wouldn't give information on abortions and birth control.
As hackers try to port Siri to iOS devices other than the iPhone 4S, however, the Apple TV ad is sure to charm adults and young teens who're looking for a smartphone.
Below, Santa Tries Out Siri on Apple's iPhone 4S:
Google Easter Eggs Like 'Let It Snow':
Try typing in phrases like let it frost over and then defrost into Google search this December and you'll get a cool Christmas easter egg: the screen will get frosty and then clear up. Better yet, don't type anything at all after entering let it frost over, and just enjoy the words you can etch into the frost with your mouse.
Another popular Google easter egg for the holidays? Let it snow, after Frank Sinatra's Christmas classic of the same name. Just like with let it frost over, your screen will sooon be covered in snow your mouse can skate over, but this time it'll happen because of the computer-generated snowflakes covering the screen.
Below, see the Google Easter Egg for Let it snow:
Whether it's a Google easter egg like Let it snow, an Apple TV ad showing Santa using Siri or a Google Voice trick that lets Santa Claus call your house, tech companies are betting big on the Christmas season this year.