US Army picks Android

The US military is preparing to arm troops with the latest in mobile technology, developing a mobile device based on the Android OS.

While iPhones are unquestionably the popular choice for preening media types hanging out in Soho, it seems that the Google system is the weapon of choice for military folk for hunting down insurgents in Fallujah.

A prototype device called the Joint Battle Command-Platform being developed by MITRE is already undergoing tests with Android used to run the software as part of a bid to reduce the amount of weighty equipment being lugged around by troops.

There are also already a variety of uses for the smartphone such as apps for keeping track of friendly forces, no doubt also handy for the US’s cannon fodder allies, and ‘critical messaging’ which can exchange important data such as medevac requests.

It is said that the phones will also offer a “bassline suite of applications” to include supporting apps such as Open Office for document viewing.

Furthermore the development kit, named the Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment, will soon be open to app creators, with Army officials suggesting a July release of the kit to developers.

“Using the Mobile /Handheld CE Product Developers Kit, we’re going to allow the third-party developers to actually develop capabilities that aren’t stovepiped,” said Lt. Col. Mark Daniels, product manager for JBC-P.

Of course as with any technology there will be concerns over the ability to keep data secure, though continued development before implementation in the field will seek to address this.

Some have been critical of Android, sometimes viewed as lax with app security, though this is primarily due to the vulnerable rogue third party apps, and it is unlikely that military phones would be open in such a way, not least to stop privates playing on Angry Birds rather than shooting at people.

Army officials are already boasting of how tough the phones are, offering an alternative to the rather cumbersome Nett Warrior suit’s array of gadget and sensors, weighing in at around two pounds.