updated 09:40 pm EDT, Fri March 23, 2012
Army switches on custom mobile app store
The US Army acted on long-term plans Friday and opened its custom mobile app store in prototype form. The Army Software Marketplace [iOS device required] is currently serving those who have their own iPhones, iPod touch players, and iPads a dozen training apps safe to use in Common Operating Environment levels of security. Among the examples are the Blue Book for beginning soldiers, the Social Media Handbook for sharing details, and other basics.
The Marketplace's is both to provide a single stop for relevant, Army-approved information and tools as well as encourage a closer link between Army-friendly app developers and the soldiers themselves.
Officials hadn't said whether or not iOS apps would be native or web-only. Apple doesn't normally allow native apps outside of the App Store, although the Army could use enterprise permissions to push apps directly to devices greenlit for access. The Army promised both "web-based and downloadable" content.
Despite the company leaning towards Android for official devices, support for Google's platform was coming "soon." BlackBerry and Windows Phone weren't mentioned.
While the effort doesn't cover the most secure environments, it marks a major step in bringing smartphones and tablets into the US military's operations. The force has both wanted to offer some level of accommodation for personal use and, ultimately, to provide help in the field. An expected Android implementation could help troops better report their status in a war zone by providing position, voice, and photos at the same time.