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U.S. military fielding an Android army

It's a phone called the Joint Battle Command-Platform and it runs on Google's OS.

 
(Photo credit should read ADEK BERRY/AFP/Getty Images)

I’m going back to my roots today with a story about military technology that could be plucked right out of Sex, Bombs and Burgers. The U.S. Army is preparing to arm soldiers with Android smartphones, complete with custom apps designed for military purposes.

“A prototype device called the Joint Battle Command-Platform being developed by MITRE is already undergoing tests with Android used to run the software as part of a bid to reduce the amount of weighty equipment being lugged around by troops,” according to Techeye.

The U.S. military picking Android for its devices is not surprising. The operating system is the most open of the major ones available, which also makes it the cheapest since its maker – Google – doesn’t charge a licensing fee. Its relative openness also makes it the most customizable, which suits the specialized needs of a customer such as the Army.

App makers have been making military-themed software for some time, like the one used to help soldiers cope with post-traumatic stress disorder.

Google also has a long and friendly history with the military, some of which is detailed in my book. Vint Cerf, considered by many to be the “father of the internet,” splits his time between military projects and being a vice-president at Google.

Two years ago, while I was working on Sex, Bombs and Burgers, he told me about how some military-funded space research he was doing might find its way into Android phones. Evidently, some of that is going to actually start happening soon.


Peter Nowak is an award-winning journalist and author of the best-selling book Sex, Bombs and Burgers. He has been a staff writer for the CBC, National Post and New Zealand Herald, while his work has appeared in the Boston Globe, South China Morning Post, Sydney Morning Herald and the Globe and Mail, among others. His personal blog can be found at www.wordsbynowak.com.