The State Department isn’t the only governmental department thinking about how useful smartphones can be, as it turns out; the Defense Department is also working on making sure that every soldier in the US Army and Marine Corps can stay connected with their very own, custom-made, smartphones. And their choice of operating system? Google’s Android.
The Software Engineering Directorate is developing a two-pound device called the Joint Battle Command-Platform (or JBC-P Handheld) for the military, which will run Android and contain a number of apps allowing soldiers to locate friendly forces, exchange “critical messaging” and other mission-specific tasks. Those apps, however, won’t be created within the military’s R&D divisions; instead, the Army is planning on releasing a special development kit called the Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment to the industry in July and letting them have a go. According to product manager Lt. Col. Mark Daniels, that’s where the best ideas are:
All of the research dollars are out there in the commercial market. All of the best minds are at work in these companies to produce these smartphones and this software. We don’t want to rehash that, we want to leverage it. We want to take advantage of it and get it out to the Soldier in a structured fashion, so it can be implemented in a way that is secure and useful at the same time.
It’s a coup for Google, and one that almost invites Apple to try and push back to promote its iOS. Maybe we can expect a new iPhone in camo colors sooner rather than later; if nothing else, at least we’ll always know where the soldiers are.
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