updated 11:30 am EDT, Mon April 20, 2009
US military goes iPod
The US armed forces are increasingly turning to iPod touches -- and iPhones, to a lesser extent -- in order to equip soldiers with multifunction handhelds, says Newsweek. Although neither Apple nor the military will comment on how many have been deployed, the devices are now being used for a variety of purposes. Beyond simple tasks such as mapping, translation, trajectory calculation and carrying video messages, photo apps are in development which could bring up intelligence on a given street, or submit suspect information to a biometric database.
More advanced plans include the ability to send or receive extremely sensitive communications, such as video from unmanned drones, or calls from spies in foreign countries. The US Army is in the process of developing a remote control app for bomb disposal robots, exploiting Apple's motion-sensing technology.
The motivation for using the Touch and the iPhone is said mainly to be cost. Whereas a Touch sells for $230 or less, depending on deals, proprietary military hardware can cost several times that amount. When equipped with protective casing, Apple handhelds are also said to be tough enough for military abuse. Another key point is said to be security, as while the devices have been unlocked and jailbroken, they have yet to fall victim to any major intrusions.