The U.S. Army is giving out free iPhone and Android devices to several hundred new recruits, as part of a new test program aimed at improving the efficiency of basic training.
The program will experiment with more effective basic training methods, such as automatic updates for field manuals, and allowing recruits to download and read manuals on their smartphones during downtime or at meals.
A contest known as “Apps for the Army” had recently challenged developers to take the lead in creating effective applications for military use. The winning apps included a physical training program, a tele-health mood tracker, a disaster relief application, a movement projection tool for mapping routes and a program that offers information to potential new recruits.
Among all 15 winners, ten were built using Android and the remaining five for the iPhone.
“The Army and some of the other services, including the Marine Corps, are considering hosting other contests and are in discussions to collaborate with commercial developers,” said Lt. Gen Jeffrey Sorenson, the Army’s chief information officer. “Additionally, the Army could deploy smartphones to soldiers in the field as soon as next year.”
The use of commercial devices can be risky from a military perspective. For example, there have been reported cases of hackers being able to potentially determine a device’s location, so some considerations still have yet to be made.
But the advancements in efficiency in technology offer a host of substantial benefits.
In July, defense contractor Raytheon was reportedly developing new software that combines maps with a buddy list to help soldiers in the battlefield find enemies using Android smartphones.