Android About to Enlist in the US Army?

By  |  Friday, April 22, 2011 at 6:03 pm

The US Army wants to equip every soldier with a smartphone in the battlefield, and it appears as if Google’s Android could be the solution. According to Wired’s Spencer Ackerman, the military has been working over the past year to realize that goal. What’s behind its choice? Likely the fact that the operating system can run across a range of third-party devices, unlike the iPhone.

Officials haven’t settled on Android just yet it seems, but it seems like it certainly has a leg up on other solutions due to its “open” nature.

Now our brave men and women won’t be phoning home with these smartphones, but the planning uses of it will certainly help to give them an advantage. Mapping functionality will help them navigate the battlefield, while another application will let them know of the locations of friendly forces.

Furthermore, messaging functionality will help speed communications between the troops, and get reinforcements and help to where it’s needed most quicker, the Army told Wired.

Of course this data is very sensitive and would need to be secured, which is something that is still being worked on. The devices would also need to be quite rugged: nothing can screw up electronics quicker than desert sand.

I think this is a great idea — arguably part of the reason why the US military is the best in the world has a lot to do with our embrace of technology. What ever can be done to keep our men and women overseas safer gets a thumbs up in my book.

The security question is a major hangup, though. The last thing we need is one of these devices falling into the bad guy’s hands and our plans being laid out for all to see in a way that is accessed fairly easily.

Is mobile security there yet? One could argue it isn’t. It will be interesting to see how they end up securing this.

(Image found at Ubergizmo)


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2 Comments For This Post

  1. andy Says:

    I doubt you’ll ever see how they secure their device.. just saying.

  2. Mark Hernandez Says:

    Given the comments of people on the original Wired article, it's clear that it's just a sensationalist story. There is a lot of missing information, and the general public is ill-equipped to deal with it.

    It's pretty clear that downloading the Android source code and then wrapping it in a secure blanket gets the Army a long ways along.

    And who will be the wireless provider out in the desert? It's not likely this will be running on Verizon or AT&T so there won't be use of any existing "third party hardware."

    Will updates from Google be sent out to the phones? Certainly not. So the original download of the Android source code will be forked and serve as the foundation, and then it will be in the military's programmer's hands from there on.

    So, we should be clear that it will likely be a custom military-hardened handset "originally based" on Google's Android software.

    Comparing it to ANY other mobile OS is only what uninformed children do, of course, because they cannot deal with the complexities of information, made worse by the over-simplification of the news articles, which just causes more confusion.