The Army has long been researching how to field smartphones on the battlefield. And the announcement last week that the Army had settled on Android operating system for its Joint Battle Command Platform Handheld means it’s one step closer to making a smartphone the newest weapon of war.
The specially designed smartphone uses a government-owned framework to ensure applications will be “secure and interoperable with existing mission command systems so information flows seamlessly across all echelons of the force,” the Army’s news blog reports.
And because of that secure framework, there will be more opportunities for third-party developers to develop capabilities “that aren’t stovepiped,” said Lt. Col. Mark Daniels, product manager for the smartphone project.
The smartphone development kit will be released to industry in July, to begin developing apps, he said. Meanwhile, the Army will continue to refine its Mission Command Apps, including mapping GPS tracking and tactical ground reporting. Other baseline apps will include more everyday fare, such as an address book and document-viewer.
“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,” Daniels said. “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.”
The JBC-P phones will hit the hands of Army and Marine troops beginning in 2013, the Army reports as the Army continues to mull whether to use government-off-the-shelf or commercial-off-the-shelf model.
Meanwhile, The Hill reports that new Nielsen survey data released today shows the Android operating system to be the most popular among consumers.