U.S. Army Enlists Android for Battlefield Communication
By Brennon Slattery
Uncle Sam has tapped the Android OS to be all that it can be. According to the U.S. Army’s blog, the Defense Department has picked Google’s Android smartphone OS to power a new military communication device: the Joint Battle Command-Platform, or JBC-P Handheld.
The government built its own protected framework for the JBC-P called the Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment, or CE, which ensures that apps built for the JBC-P will be secure and interoperable with different mission command systems.
The apps currently being tested include GPS tracking of user-designated friendlies or unfriendlies, Tactical Ground Reporting, and messaging apps for Medevac and more. There will also be a basic suite of apps for the JBC-P, like an address book and Open Office for viewing documents. (Sorry, Google Docs.)
In an uncharacteristically transparent move, the Army will release the Mobile/Handheld CE development kit to the public in July, Lt. Col. Mark Daniels, product manager for JBC-P, says. This ought to help raise the number of apps in the Android Marketplace and reinvigorate developer interest in the platform.
No word yet on what kind of hardware the Army will use. According to its blog, the Army is “currently evaluating prototypes to determine whether to use a government-off-the-shelf model or a commercial-off-the-shelf model in a ruggedized tactical sleeve or case.” If it chooses the latter, the Army has a wealth of stellar Android smartphones at its disposal, with bigger and better handhelds coming all the time.