Acting with surprising transparency, the US Army has not only announced that it will use the Android mobile OS for combat operations, it is releasing a developers' kit so that third-party developers can design interoperable applications for the Army.
A blog post reveals that the Army is using the Android OS as the basis for a tactical operations platform. This platform, and the developers' kit that will be released, will guarantee that any applications used by tactical teams are completely interoperable, so there are no breakdowns in the flow of information during operations.
The Joint Battle Command-Platform (JBC-P) Handheld will be issued to dismounted soldiers who might not have access to sophisticated telecommunications hardware while on the move.
"Using the Mobile /Handheld CE Product Developers Kit, we're going to allow the third-party developers to actually develop capabilities that aren't stovepiped," said JBC-P product manager Lt. Col. Mark Daniels. He continued, "That's going to allow us to be interoperable across the entire family of systems of JBC-P, which would include the platforms, the aviation, the logistics community, the tanks, the Bradleys, the handhelds."
This approach acknowledges that the best app developers are working on the open market, while creating a level of control over implementation that is meant to give the Army confidence that any apps it chooses to use won't prove ot be buggy in the field.
The developers' kit will be released in July and the JCB-P will see action in 2013.