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US Army's first smartphone will be powered by Google Android, not Apple

post #1 of 180
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In what could be a major design win for Google, the U.S. Army is currently undergoing testing of a prototype Android-based smartphone platform for connected soldiers, according to a new report.

Wired reports that a wartime smartphone called the Joint Battle Command-Platform is currently being tested by the Army. The device, which was developed by nonprofit MITRE, runs Google's Android mobile operating system.

According to the Army, the platform's development kit, known as the Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment, will be released to developers in July. The Army is exploring a rank of tasks for the device, including mapping, a "Force Tracker" that keeps track of friendly units and "critical messaging" for exchanging medical requests and on the ground reporting.

As is to be expected, security remains one of the top issues that needs to be resolved. The difficulty of deploying the devices in low connectivity combat environments has also presented challenges for the project.

The Army's vice chief of staff, Gen. Peter Chiarelli, claims that the tested devices can handed the extra wear-and-tear from war zones, the report noted. The Joint Battle Command-Platform weighs roughly two pounds when connected to a radio and is significantly lighter than current solutions, such as the Nett Warrior.

While the current prototype is a long way from the final stages of the project, Android appears to be the early platform of choice, especially since the Mobile/Handheld Computing Environment is meant to run on "any manner of devices."

Last December, ArmyTimes reported that the Army was considering issuing smartphones as standard equipment for soldiers. Apple's iPhone, as well as phones running Google Android, were in the running.

Army officials visited the Apple campus last year to discuss the company's future technology as related to battlefield applications. Apple's "it just works" philosophy had drawn the attention of the Army.

"Apple technologies offer unique and proven solutions with intuitive designs that allow users to learn quickly without a training manual," Ron Szymanski, lead computer scientist with the Army's Communications-Electronics Research, Development and Engineering Center, reportedly said. "The Army would like to leverage Apple's experience when designing military operations."

Several iPhone apps have been developed by the Army's Communications-Electronics Research and Development Center in recent years: COIN Collector, a counter-insurgency information collection tool, and MilSpace, a planning and social networking environment.

Photo courtesy U.S. Army, credit C. Todd Lopez

In 2008, it was revealed that the Army had begun using custom iPods as an affordable and lightweight solution for field translation work in Iraq. iPods and iPod nanos were attached to armbands and speakers and modified to run a translation app.

An iPod nano with Vcommunicator Mobile, armband and speaker for use in the field. | Image credits: U.S. Army.
post #2 of 180
Once again the Army shows its predilection for cutting edge technology. When "open" Android becomes the Windows of mobile OS's, virus ridden and hacked to death, the enemy will be selling "find your friend, the soldier" apps on the Android Store.

The Navy wised up a few years ago and switched from Windows PCs to Macs for their more sensitive work.
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post #3 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

Once again the Army shows its predilection for cutting edge technology. When "open" Android becomes the Windows of mobile OS's, virus ridden and hacked to death, the enemy will be selling "find your friend, the soldier" apps on the Android Store.

The Navy wised up a few years ago and switched from Windows PCs to Macs for their more sensitive work.

I think it's quite a stretch to suggest linux will become Windows when it comes to security.
post #4 of 180
They got it wrong again. It is the Army's loss. Sorry!
post #5 of 180
Just pathetic ... I can't believe the Army went with the Android mess. Come on!
post #6 of 180
Curated versus not.

Good luck, guys (and gals) in the US army.
post #7 of 180
No surprise, they got all excited by the commercials of robots and spaceships.
post #8 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by Robin Huber View Post

the enemy will be selling "find your friend, the soldier" apps on the Android Store.

How is that any different from the tracking bug on the iPhone?

I suppose they went with Android because it would be easier to customize for their needs. I wonder how this will turn out.
post #9 of 180
Totally makes sense. You didn't think that apple was going to let the military fork iOS, did you? And frankly - google may need the admob clicks...
post #10 of 180
The former CEO, now Chairman of the Board of Google, has been a close sci-tech adviser of the administration since the beginning. And, if I am not mistaken, Google spends more for lobby funds than Apple.

It pays big dividends to have close relationships among the decision makers.

To be fair though, if Google allowed Android as "open source", the government has more leeway to fork the OS that will suit their purpose not possible with proprietary software. Whether this played a role in the decision is another matter.

Choosing between competing technologies reminds me of the "light water Nuclear Power technology developed by the US vs the "heavy water Nuclear Power technology developed (called CANDU) by the Canada. Westinghouse, once a major US company, the major manufacturer of the US-supported nuclear technology

CANDU is more safe than the US "light water" nuclear technology. More than likely, one of the reasons why Japan chose the US "light water" nuclear technology was part of higher level decisions involving trade pacts between the US and Japan.

The estimate cost for the reconstruction as a result of the recent earthquake-tsunami was US$300billion -- the costliest reconstruction in the world. Whether the reconstruction cost estimate include the cost of economic displacement and increased health issues, e.g., greater cancer risks, was not indicated.

A significant part of this is the nuclear meltdown triggered by the disaster. The immeasurable costs are the losses as a result of displacement in lives, community and properties of Japanese living around the nuclear disaster area. A place that may not be suitable for human habitation, agriculture and manufacturing for decades to come.

In regard security, the PC (non-Apple) dominated computer systems of the US government is causing billions of dollars to protect from imminent hacks.

Apple Ecosystems
post #11 of 180
The device is being developed by a third party military contractor so Android would be the only available choice. I can't see Apple opening a military division to produce military hardened phones for use in battle. Can you?
post #12 of 180
Apple has never really tried to go for the enterprise market, why do you think they'll go after the dept of defense's business. Do you know how tough it is to do business with the feds? Good call, apple.
post #13 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by AppleInsider View Post

The Army is exploring a rank of tasks for the device, including mapping, a "Force Tracker" that keeps track of friendly units and "critical messaging" for exchanging medieval requests and on the ground reporting.

Well no wonder they are using Android. No Apple device is even capable of exchanging medieval requests since, well, medieval times several hundred years ago.

And seriously, a "rank" of tasks? Maybe some for corporals, a bunch of others for sergeants, a few for the First Shirt, and even a special one for the Sgt. Majors. We PFCs would be happy just to email the girls back home with it.

Wondering who wrote and proofread this crap.
post #14 of 180
Makes sense.

Google is an American company.

Apple is a Chinese company.

post #15 of 180
This wasn't a "win" because Apple was never an option. The military wanted customizable OS and hardware. That is what Android does best and what Apple wants nothing to do with.

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post #16 of 180
Does this really surprise anyone?

I mean the army is full of idiots, why would they want to do something smart?

Anyone remember the story where insurgents in Afghanistan were tracking our million dollar drones with scraps made from Radio shack parts that costs about $3.50?

More waste of taxpayer dollars...

(getting political...)
We'd be a lot better off (and a hell of a lot smarter with a hell of a lot less social problems) switching the military and education budgets. What we're doing now and have been for 50 years sure in the world ain't working that's for sure...
post #17 of 180
Well, I hope the US never goes to war against China!
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post #18 of 180
The enemy will be using iPhones and they'll have an advantage. Go figure. The U.S. Army decided to go with second best. I thought the military had some sort of unlimited budget and yet they cheaped out.
post #19 of 180
The iPhone 4 won't last a minute in combat. It's too delicate..

Or the Army is afraid that terrorists might their hands on a soldier's iPhone, get access to consolidated.db and track an Army unit's every movement..
post #20 of 180
I, for one, think they can have it. iOS on the battlefield? They are too good for that. Getting toss around, dusty environment etc. Let Androids (correction, trash robot) have it. Suit them better with customisation, cheap reusable components and perhaps most importantly, can be easily hacked with poop screensavers and background picture (Hooray for those anti-American movements, if they so incline). Plus, those soldiers need free Google apps to fund their expensive busy-body wars.
post #21 of 180
Good. It's not like being associated with the US military is a flattering thing.
post #22 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by Constable Odo View Post

The enemy will be using iPhones and they'll have an advantage. Go figure. The U.S. Army decided to go with second best. I thought the military had some sort of unlimited budget and yet they cheaped out.

Military does not have an unlimited budget. In fact, most times they go with whichever company offers the cheapest deal (why do you think there are so many Dell's throughout the military?) Military buys some really cheap garbage.

As for this particular project, nothing will even be fielded until 2013. And by then, I'm sure something better will have come out and this will get dropped.
post #23 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by frankie View Post

(getting political...) We'd be a lot better off (and a hell of a lot smarter with a hell of a lot less social problems) switching the military and education budgets. What we're doing now and have been for 50 years sure in the world ain't working that's for sure...


(staying political...) Obama is pretty well educated! We're not better off. The man has no common sense, street smarts and is lacking in the humanities, AND this nation has never been more divided! So much for increased education! Besides increases in education funds wouldn't go to the children, but to the Union bosses first, then teachers (increased pay, free health care, and 80% pension), NEA, then maybe what's left goes to the state for distribution towards the children. Just see WI! But I will agree with you somewhat... What we've been doing for the past two years sure in the world ain't working that's for sure.

Regarding story, when it comes to Apple and Google, I'll pick Apple any day of the week and twice on Sunday! When it comes to our soldiers, especially those on the front lines, regardless of how one feels about the wars, I'll pick the US soldier any time, any where and if anything can be done to ensure their safety and victory and come back home soon, I'll choose whatever it takes to enhance that safety and victory, even if that something is Android!
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post #24 of 180
Although I'm out of the defense biz now, going with Android was probably a no-brainer. They need the ability to harden the hardware, swap out comm software, customize the login/home software, etc. Yeah, so a couple hundred thousand games will be missing and some nifty music software. They probably will wall that garden out the wazoo anyway and not allow any non-approved software onto the devices.

I worked with the Battle Command folks when they were here at Ft Monmouth and they're not idiots. They're actually a pretty sharp bunch. And General Chiarelli is probably one of the most tech-savvy guys with stars on his shoulder... we used to use his name as a verb for something that gets pulled out of R&D and fielded sooner than anyone could have imagined (leading to a lot of late nights for software engineers but soldiers with the best stuff in the world.)

Anyway, I'm sure there will still be a heck of a lot of iPhones on the next battlefield. It just won't run JBC-P.
post #25 of 180
This is a great result.

Apple keeps the Military brass out of your lives by the fact it has no intention of exposing it's technologies and patents to the CIA, NSA, and Armed Forces.

We had this problem back at NeXT when the CIA approached us at NeXT, Andrew Stone of Stone Design and a few key developers [They wanted NeXT and those key developers to developer solutions for distributed databases and keep track of US Citizens].

It was shot down.

I can't remember if this was first pushed by Perot but it was shot down by Steve and all that the CIA received was a custom build of NeXTStep 3.0 and shortly afterwards they went with Microsoft.
post #26 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

(staying political...) Obama is pretty well educated! We're not better off. The man has no common sense, street smarts and is lacking in the humanities, AND this nation has never been more divided! So much for increased education! Besides increases in education funds wouldn't go to the children, but to the Union bosses first, then teachers (increased pay, free health care, and 80% pension), NEA, then maybe what's left goes to the state for distribution towards the children. Just see WI! But I will agree with you somewhat... What we've been doing for the past two years sure in the world ain't working that's for sure.

Regarding story, when it comes to Apple and Google, I'll pick Apple any day of the week and twice on Sunday! When it comes to our soldiers, especially those on the front lines, regardless of how one feels about the wars, I'll pick the US soldier any time, any where and if anything can be done to ensure their safety and victory and come back home soon, I'll choose whatever it takes to enhance that safety and victory, even if that something is Android!
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I disagree with everything you said in the first paragraph, but I'd really this forum didn't turn into a political flamewar, so I'm going to refrain and I'd encourage others to stay on topic as well.
post #27 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by Crimguy View Post

I think it's quite a stretch to suggest linux will become Windows when it comes to security.

Really? I seem to recall numerous accounts of the Android OS being compromised by nefarious and malevolent apps. Does this mean the OS is insecure - not really. does it meant the implementation of the OS by Google is insecure - ABSOLUTELY.

Give me a walled garden any day of the week as opposed to an "open" garbage dump.

The Army has once again proven why it is the lesser of the Military branches. Flaky body armor, sub-optimal weaponry, bottom of the barrel recruits, and now the dregs of the smartphone technology. Go Army!
post #28 of 180
So many ignorant and stupid, yes stupid, people posting here. If it was your son or daughter going into combat, the last thing you'd want is for them to have a device because it's "slick", which is what Apple is all about these days. There will never be ruggedized iPhone hardware. Apple would never allow someone else to modify iOS to handle the security and sensitive information this devices will be expected to carry. Regardless of cost, Apple would in no way be responsive to the needs of the military for such a device and how it would need to be managed and controlled. Sure, use a Mac if you are sitting comfy in an office in the Pentagon or cruising around the oceans on an aircraft carrier. But you don't want Apple hardware on the battlefield.

I don't care what your opinions are about how the US uses it's military, but at least have a little respect for the men and women who are put in harm's way by our idiot politicians. No way in hell would I want my kid going into combat with an iPhone.
post #29 of 180
iOS is not suitable for the military period. iOS does not allow sideloading of apps, that's basically it. Let's not try to make too much out of this news, although again, I'm sure the article is written in a way to maximize the clicks.
post #30 of 180
i can't wait tiil the day some soldier download some kind of hot girls wallpaper, turn out that will open a back door for the enemies to get all your info . Good luck with the crap beta O.S

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post #31 of 180
Maybe, but if I recall it was Google that got hacked by the Chinese and lost a lot of user information to the Chinese. You know stuff like Gmail accounts. Shortly thereafter, many folks, my stepfather included had his gmail account hacked and he was locked out of it by the hacker. Still hasn't gained access, while friends receive email in his name.

Don't really hear about that happening to Apple.

Quote:
Originally Posted by frugality View Post

Makes sense.

Google is an American company.

Apple is a Chinese company.

post #32 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by morgan.nelson View Post

Really? I seem to recall numerous accounts of the Android OS being compromised by nefarious and malevolent apps. Does this mean the OS is insecure - not really. does it meant the implementation of the OS by Google is insecure - ABSOLUTELY.

Give me a walled garden any day of the week as opposed to an "open" garbage dump.

The Army has once again proven why it is the lesser of the Military branches. Flaky body armor, sub-optimal weaponry, bottom of the barrel recruits, and now the dregs of the smartphone technology. Go Army!

Do you really think they'd be using off-the-shelf Android? The very fact that they can customize it and lock it down was probably a driving factor in the decision. It wouldn't be a walled garden, it would be a fortress. With an iOS device they'd always be at the whim of Apple to address any security concerns. With Android, they can strictly control how any software gets added to the device.

Or did you really think they'd let soldiers just log into an Android marketplace and download whatever they wanted onto the device.
post #33 of 180
In truth, it really isn't Android at all. Android has to run Google services, like maps, etc. Android is a marketing term for a version of the OS that Google has approved.

If you want to modify it without Google's stamp of approval, Google doesn't allow one to call it Android.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

Do you really think they'd be using off-the-shelf Android? The very fact that they can customize it and lock it down was probably a driving factor in the decision. It wouldn't be a walled garden, it would be a fortress. With an iOS device they'd always be at the whim of Apple to address any security concerns. With Android, they can strictly control how any software gets added to the device.

Or did you really think they'd let soldiers just log into an Android marketplace and download whatever they wanted onto the device.
post #34 of 180
It's a device built by contracted company. Like Apple will allow that... And they probably wouldn't have time to work with the army anyway seeing the iPad 2 is still in a "mother of all backlog".
post #35 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMacintosh View Post

How is that any different from the tracking bug on the iPhone?

I suppose they went with Android because it would be easier to customize for their needs. I wonder how this will turn out.

How is apples tracking any different than googles?

http://online.wsj.com/article/SB1000...ech_LEADSecond

Only difference is that apple creates a .db file on the syncing computer
post #36 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by MrMacintosh View Post

How is that any different from the tracking bug on the iPhone?

I suppose they went with Android because it would be easier to customize for their needs. I wonder how this will turn out.

On iPhone it's a bug, on Android it's a feature.
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post #37 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by apple-ecosystems View Post

The former CEO, now Chairman of the Board of Google, has been a close sci-tech adviser of the administration since the beginning. And, if I am not mistaken, Google spends more for lobby funds than Apple.

I got nothing to back it up, but I doubt cozying up to any current administration is going to automatically dictate Pentagon equipment-buying decisions. There are many layers in between, and decisions like this can take the coming and going of more than one administration before they are made.
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post #38 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by Rot'nApple View Post

(staying political...) Besides increases in education funds wouldn't go to the children, but to the Union bosses first, then teachers (increased pay, free health care, and 80% pension), NEA, then maybe what's left goes to the state for distribution towards the children.

But seriously, in a hundred years or so people will look back in wonder at a society that deluded itself into believing that teachers are the enemy.
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post #39 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by Wiggin View Post

So many ignorant and stupid, yes stupid, people posting here. If it was your son or daughter going into combat, the last thing you'd want is for them to have a device because it's "slick", which is what Apple is all about these days. There will never be ruggedized iPhone hardware. Apple would never allow someone else to modify iOS to handle the security and sensitive information this devices will be expected to carry. Regardless of cost, Apple would in no way be responsive to the needs of the military for such a device and how it would need to be managed and controlled. Sure, use a Mac if you are sitting comfy in an office in the Pentagon or cruising around the oceans on an aircraft carrier. But you don't want Apple hardware on the battlefield.

I don't care what your opinions are about how the US uses it's military, but at least have a little respect for the men and women who are put in harm's way by our idiot politicians. No way in hell would I want my kid going into combat with an iPhone.

Maybe you should show some respect by not stepping out of line and writing checks your body can't cash. It's not just son's and daughters asses that are on the line, it has been some of our and our friends.

Have you participated in the design of a device destined for a combat zone? Doubtful. Do you work with soldier/engineers designing devices for things that they want in combat zones? No, you don't. Do you know about the tactically critical hardware limitations to ALL of these commercially available devices due to signal leakage? No, you probably don't.

If you did know about those things you would understand why they learn what can be accomplished by learning to program the iPhone, then work out how to find custom hardware that doesn't have the above problems, and then they are stuck with doing the device in Android because another previous poster was correct, Apple isn't about to redesign a signals secure iPhone for the military.
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post #40 of 180
Quote:
Originally Posted by TBell View Post


If you want to modify it without Google's stamp of approval, Google doesn't allow one to call it Android.

Source?
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