Apple Has An App For Calling In Air Strikes (1 Viewer)

Apple Has An App For Calling In Air Strikes

September 30, 2010: The iPhone now has an app for calling in air strikes. This is part of a trend. Specialized, and now portable, computers have been used in the military for decades, to help troops who call in artillery fire, or air strikes. But these "forward controllers" have to lug around a lot of gear, as they move, often on foot, with the infantry they support. Every bit of weight counts. The less you carry, the more energy you have for life-and-death tasks. Now, Apple has an app for that, and the forward controllers can leave behind gear that has now been replaced by an iPhone app. .

These military apps came about as the U.S. Army set up a special military apps program with the Apple Corporation. This evolved over the last few years because soldiers have long been enthusiastic users of Apple products (iPod and iPhone, and now the iPad as well). But Apple has tight control over what software can be used on these devices, so the military needed a close relationship with Apple just to get their custom military software on the iPods, iPhones and iPads the troops are so enthusiastic about.

This relationship enabled the army to run a programming contest earlier this year. Troops and civilian employees were challenged to develop as many good military-specific apps as they could in 75 days. The goal was to create the most effective smart phone software for the troops. Mainly, this was for the iPhones (and iPod Touch), but also for other smart phones like those using the Google Android operating system. The army believes their military and civilian personnel know what applications are most needed. The troops have already decided what hardware they most need, because they have been buying iPods and iPhones with their own money. The challenge contest attracted 114 military and army civilian competitors, who created 53 apps by the deadline. Cash prizes were given out to 15 of the best Apple and Android apps ($27,500 for the top three finishers in five different categories.)

The army sees these portable devices as key battlefield devices. Not just for communication, but for a wide range of data handling (computer) chores. The army wants to work closely with Apple to ensure the troops get the software need, as well as customized hardware. Details are largely kept secret.

This is all part of a trend. In the last decade, the U.S. military found the iPod music player an increasingly useful tool.

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