Imagine a soldier using his iPhone to go to the iTunes store and download an app needed urgently in a combat situation.
Well, that might be a bit of a stretch. But the Army is working with Apple and Google to make it possible to use iPhones and Google Androids as mobile devices.
"It portends a different way we can do future acquisition of applications for the war fighter. What I'm trying to do is to get capability to the war fighter much more rapidly...," said Lt. Gen Jeff Sorenson, Army chief information officer.
He told Army Times an arrangement like that could cut through the bureaucratic process and tap into a booming section of the private sector where new things appear daily.
"I can foresee a day when (soldiers) will be equipped an iPhone or equipped with an Android in order to conduct the mission," said Sorenson.
The Army has already tested on possibility: contests for creating apps. One event held in Florida produced 53 candidates. Some could be made available for encrypted phones.
Prizes ranging from $1,000 to $3,000 were awarded.
The Army has its own version of iTunes, www.forge.mil and https:storefront.mil.
"The ones that we have able to put on the storefront, soldiers can download today and I think that not only creates some opportunities for some to improve what they do on a daily basis but maybe encourages them to consider going onto forge.mil and writing an app on their own," said Sorenson.
Among those created in the contest was one called the "Telehealth Mood Tracker." It allows fighters to track their psychological health, which could help detect signs of developing problems such as depression.
The iTunes store already includes man war games apps created by iPhone users.
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