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Cellphones Iphone Communications Google Handhelds The Military Apple Technology

iPhone vs. Android Battle Goes To Afghanistan 146

Posted by Soulskill
from the no-blood-for-apps dept.
redlined writes "Cell phones are tired of waiting for the troops to come home and are going to war themselves. Tech startup Berico Tailored Systems, Lockheed Martin and apparently an army of Slashdot users are currently making tactical 3G cellular networks and smartphone applications for the military to use overseas. While DARPA has held a competition to develop iPhone and Android applications, tactically-deployable 3G networks from companies like those above should open up a slew of opportunities for Apple and Google to duke it out on an actual battlefield."
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iPhone vs. Android Battle Goes To Afghanistan

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  • Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by XPeter (1429763) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:53PM (#33211406) Homepage

    For a few key reasons:

    1. Swappable battery without sending the phone back to Apple.
    2. Open development
    3. Custom ROMs

  • Outsourcing (Score:5, Insightful)

    by cosm (1072588) <(moc.liamg) (ta) (3msoceht)> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @09:53PM (#33211408)
    So we're outsourcing our flame wars now as well?
  • Re:Android (Score:1, Insightful)

    by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:13PM (#33211518)

    It's all about quality of build. Something to endure the conditions in Iraq and Afghanistan. I love my iphone but I think the ideal scenario would be the deployment of some custom hardware on the battlefield with Android. Sand gets in everything.

  • Re:Android (Score:2, Insightful)

    by samkass (174571) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:22PM (#33211558) Homepage Journal

    1. Swappable battery without sending the phone back to Apple.
    2. Open development
    3. Custom ROMs

    1. Actually, a swappable battery means another latch/compartment to get dirty, broken, wet, or damaged. The ideal device would be hermetically sealed. Barring that, as few ports/hatches as possible.
    2. What restrictions do you think the Army has on apps they distribute?
    3. No, but yes. Custom hardware (not ROMs) is the key to Android's future in the Army. If you need to take out the radio or camera for security restrictions, add a hardware switch for any features, put a glove-friendly touchscreen on, ruggedize, or otherwise customize the hardware it's possible with Android and impossible with Apple.

  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by AnonGCB (1398517) <`moc.liamg' `ta' `smaps7'> on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:22PM (#33211560)

    The point isn't about replacing the battery because of wear (though that is a plus, and the fact that you don't have to unscrew the whole damn backplate to get at it), it's about carrying a 6 pack of batteries when you're going on a mission and swapping them as needed.

  • by HBoar (1642149) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:27PM (#33211580)
    Yep, there is simply no substitute for tactile feedback when it comes to a good UI. Touch-screens are great -- in ADDITION to buttons, not instead of.
  • by Anonymous Coward on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:28PM (#33211590)

    It looks like Berico Tailored Systems and Lockheed have built their own 3G military networks. Berico Tailored Systems web site says the data rate for their PraefectaCELL 3G is 14.4 mbps.

    http://unleashbts.com/praefectacell_3g.php

  • Re:Android (Score:4, Insightful)

    by swb (14022) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @10:52PM (#33211720)

    I think the idea is that the mission has a defined length of time (ie, you won't be gone from resupply for that long) and that if the batteries last for 1/4 of your mission, 6 is enough power for the entire mission plus extra for delays or problems. You're also not dependent on recharging which takes time and depends on a battery working. With spares, you just replace a battery and if it doesn't work, you take another.

    A charger might be a reasonable thing to have for very long missions or for units attached to a mechanical company of some kind. Otherwise it's time-consuming to use and doesn't solve anything if batteries have failed and won't or can't be charged. Further, the only reliable power source in the field is solar power which doesn't help the charging time or the cost of the equipment.

  • Re:Android (Score:5, Insightful)

    by spyder-implee (864295) on Tuesday August 10, 2010 @11:07PM (#33211816)
    1. Actually a removable battery is very important and you have completely missed the operational reason. Soldiers carry a bunch of equipment which use batteries (NVG's, LRF's, NAD's, Radio's, Illuminated sights, not to mention simple things like torches etc...) and it's important they all (where possible) use the same type of batteries. Simply put, if the battery in my Night Vision Goggles die and I have run out of spares, I want to swap the battery from my phone into my NVG, since it's more critical piece of equipment for my current task. Soldiers are entirely capable of keeping their kit free of dust & grime (I'm capable of stripping down an m4 to the ejector claw without getting dust through it, why wouldn't I be able to manage a phone?)
  • Re:Android (Score:4, Insightful)

    by stephanruby (542433) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @02:49AM (#33212678)

    2. What restrictions do you think the Army has on apps they distribute?

    Ok, I'll try to answer that one:

    1. Full device encryption, which some of the Android ROMs provide, but which the iPhone Enterprise-level ROMs do not (as of yet!). Not to mention custom hardware that you just mentioned, which will probably never be doable with the iPhone.

    2. A device that's second sourced. In other words, the Department of Defense doesn't want to be solely dependent on one company (one-point-failure) to supply its critical infrastructure. In the case of Intel for instance, Intel had to train to a certain level and license some of its core technology to its arch enemy AMD so that it could be able to win the very lucrative government contracts that the Department of Defense was doling out. This is one of the main reasons that the military is credited for having started the computer revolution. It was not just the funding that was important, it was ultimately the strings that were attached to those funds.

    3. The idea that the phone shouldn't be manufactured in Mainland China (for fear of a Chinese back-door). Thus far, only a few of the Android phones meet that criterion. The iPhone doesn't.

    4. Standard parts that can be found, swapped, hacked, replaced, and repaired locally (without going against the terms of the license if they were to buy non-approved OEM parts that were just as good as the original but way-way cheaper than non-Apple batteries). And by locally, I don't mean Paris or the UK. I know we can find iPhone headphones over there.

    5. Easy to develop on. Again, another clear win for Android. It's not just easier to code on, cut and paste examples, and just make them work with some tweaking (unlike the iPhone), Google is also Beta testing 'App Inventor', a visual IDE which lets you build Android applications visually while the code gets generated in the background.

    6. Not being tied to the various whims and moods of Steve Jobs such as: "You May NOT Use iTunes To Design, Manufacture or Produce Nuclear, Chemical or Biological Weapons". I doubt that such a clause would bother the Army, but at least with Android, Google didn't put their "Do no Evil" clause in their terms and conditions. In fact, it's a given that since Flash is allowed to run on Android, it means that "Doing Evil" is clearly allowed.

  • Re:Android (Score:3, Insightful)

    by delinear (991444) on Wednesday August 11, 2010 @05:57AM (#33213234)
    A charger is also going to be bulkier than a spare battery, so you either have to give it to one guy in the unit to carry and risk losing it if anything happens to him, or you give chargers to several soldiers and increase the weight of kit the unit is carrying unecessarily. The beauty of spare batteries, like spare rounds, is that everyone can carry one without adding much weight, and assuming everyone's using a compatible device you can get a replacement from anyone else in the unit, you're not putting your eggs in one basket.

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