The U.S. Army is winding down a six-week program testing the viability of using touchscreen phones and tablets in combat. According to CNN, Army officials are encouraged by the results and smartphone-equipped soldiers could be sent overseas later this year.
“These young soldiers grew up with this technology,” said Michael McCarthy, an Army director for the program. “They’re very familiar with it. They’re very comfortable with it.”
During the trials, soldiers tested more than 300 iPhone, Android and Windows Phone units. Another Army division is testing phones that run a specialized version of Google’s open-source Android software, called the Joint Battle Command-Platform Handheld.
Along with the smartphone and tablet program, the Army is testing equipment that would allow operators to deploy a makeshift cell network. The “cell tower in a suitcase” creates a limited-range wireless network in the event of unreliable service or a desire to keep out unwanted listeners.
The Army is also developing a mobile app store, the Army Marketplace, for both iPhones and Android phones. The Marketplace could launch in August if security features and other details fall into place.