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US Military Issuing iPod Touches To Soldiers

ScuttleMonkey posted more than 5 years ago | from the gi-pod dept.

The Military 323

644bd346996 writes "Newsweek has an article about the latest weapons in the US military's arsenal. The iPod Touch and the iPhone are being adapted as general purpose handhelds for soldiers in the field. 'Apple gadgets are proving to be surprisingly versatile. Software developers and the US Department of Defense are developing military software for iPods that enables soldiers to display aerial video from drones and have teleconferences with intelligence agents halfway across the globe. Snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan now use a "ballistics calculator" called BulletFlight, made by the Florida firm Knight's Armament for the iPod Touch and iPhone. Army researchers are developing applications to turn an iPod into a remote control for a bomb-disposal robot (tilting the iPod steers the robot). In Sudan, American military observers are using iPods to learn the appropriate etiquette for interacting with tribal leaders.'"

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The real question is.... (5, Insightful)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27654985)

The real question is: are the military funded applications sold through the Appstore? Or is the US army jail breaking their phones? Or is Apple providing the military special unlocked iPhones?

Perhaps Apple should consider rerunning their 'think different' campaign - this time with a sniper rather than Ghandi.

Re:The real question is.... (5, Insightful)

Mr. Roadkill (731328) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655083)

The real question is: are the military funded applications sold through the Appstore? Or is the US army jail breaking their phones? Or is Apple providing the military special unlocked iPhones?

Actually, I'd bet that Apple are providing the military with special phones that are locked to an "Apps Depot" where the military can make available special apps they've sanctioned. You don't want a piece of military hardware able to run any old dodgy thing sold through the app store, and you equally don't want the machine unlocked and potentially vulnerable when the soldiers install the latest piece of iPorn for Unlocked Phones that hits the bazaars. Remember the pirate DVDs/VCDs with viruses and rootkits and all kinds of other goodness on them that went through military laptops a while back?

Re:The real question is.... (5, Informative)

EvilIdler (21087) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655159)

Apple has an enterprise program. You buy the $299 dev licence, and you can install to your own company/platoon/whatever's devices.

Re:The real question is.... (0)

rxan (1424721) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655167)

The Army gets their apps from the Appory! Get it? Armory... Appory... OK, that was a horrible pun.

Re:The real question is.... (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655195)

Seems to me like an ARM processor joke would have been more appropriate, something along the lines of: "I heard they got their iPhone processors from the... ARMory"

Re:The real question is.... (-1, Troll)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655181)

Actually, I'd bet that Apple are providing the military with special phones that are locked to an "Apps Depot"

Bingo. That's got to be it. Apple aren't exactly publicing this tho' are they? Guess it won't go down to well with the Gandhi loving, prius driving, latte sipping, Bush hating segment of their user base.

Re:The real question is.... (-1, Offtopic)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655301)

Naw, the phones are only consolation prizes to keep the homos happy, open gayness not allowed and all.

Some of us absolutely LOVE bush. (5, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655329)

Bush hating

Hey! Some of us absolutely LOVE bush.

Stop the Apple users are gay innuendo!

Re:The real question is.... (4, Insightful)

Old97 (1341297) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655375)

I'm a Gandhi loving, walking and public transport (though a Prius would be O.K. if I had to drive), latte (no cream, please) sipping, Bush hating guy and I think this is great. I'm also an Army vet with an intel and law enforcement background. Did I mention that I'm also a big Obama supporter? Take your stereotypes and shove them where the sun don't shine (on your body).

Re:The real question is.... (5, Funny)

thousandinone (918319) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655529)

shove them where the sun don't shine (on your body)

Could you be more specific? This is slashdot, remember.

Re:The real question is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655647)

Better not be in Vatican then.

Re:The real question is.... (5, Funny)

Shadow of Eternity (795165) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655653)

You must be new to the internet. Anyone that's seen the Goatse man knows that the sun can in fact shine there.

Re:The real question is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655401)

Actually, I'd bet that Apple are providing the military with special phones that are locked to an "Apps Depot"

Bingo. That's got to be it. Apple aren't exactly publicing this tho' are they? Guess it won't go down to well with the Gandhi loving, prius driving, latte sipping, Bush hating segment of their user base.

Awww, come on.

US troops deserve the best.

And that includes smug.

Re:The real question is.... (1)

R3d M3rcury (871886) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655095)

I doubt it. More likely that (a) they're using Ad-hoc distribution and paying an appropriate license for it and (b) they're using unlocked phones (which aren't "special"--you can buy unlocked phones from Apple for $600).

Re:The real question is.... (-1, Troll)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655165)

I doubt it. More likely that (a) they're using Ad-hoc distribution and paying an appropriate

Ad hoc distribution? That will work fine! After all, the US army only has 100 soliders, so that will work fine with the ad hoc 100 user limit [zdnet.com] ...oh wait.

they're using unlocked phones (which aren't "special"--you can buy unlocked phones from Apple for $600).

*rolls eyes* I don't mean sim-locked, I mean Apple's-distribution-channel-locked.

We're talking about iPod touches and iPhones here remember - Touches don't have sim cards.

Re:The real question is.... (5, Informative)

p0tat03 (985078) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655215)

Er... You know that Apple officially supports "Enterprise apps" on iPhone? Which is to say, privately developed apps available on an intranet "App Store". The bonus here is also that these apps do not require Apple approval, just the appropriate develpment licenses.

Next time do a little research before getting sarcastic.

Re:The real question is.... (-1, Troll)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655243)

Next time do a little research before getting sarcastic.

This is Slashdot m'boy. Not the sort of forum for your 'research' and 'facts'.

Not nitpicking (3, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655199)

The right spelling is Gandhi.
Gan as in "gone" + dhi as in the first portion of 'this'.

Re:Not nitpicking (5, Informative)

Whiney Mac Fanboy (963289) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655233)

The right spelling is Gandhi.

Correct. I am a retard.

Re:The real question is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655207)

Just putting it out to the slashdot audience: It's Gandhi, not Ghandi. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mahatma_Gandhi [wikipedia.org]

Re:The real question is.... (1)

Quiet_Desperation (858215) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655265)

The real real question is: are the iPods and iPhones colored in desert camouflage?

'Cause I want one if they are.

Re:The real question is.... (1, Funny)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655271)

In other news, taxes go up 400% due to extra military spending.

Re:The real question is.... (5, Funny)

YayaY (837729) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655277)

thanks, I'll be playing Tetris behind enemy line.

Re:The real question is.... (1)

falcon5768 (629591) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655287)

probably just using the dev tools, and the iPod touch/phone imaging tool they provide us for schools.

Re:The real question is.... (1)

RobertLTux (260313) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655295)

Oh im sure that the folks from the Pentagram^h^h^h^hgon have some sort of site license and they have the phones locked to a depot or something

Re:The real question is.... (1)

rackserverdeals (1503561) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655321)

The real question is:

No, the real question is what happened to Don't Pod, Don't Touch?

Re:The real question is.... (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655437)

I just checked - there are three different versions of BulletFlight available on the App Store - so I guess they are being sold through the App Store!

Re:The real question is.... (1, Informative)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655585)

The real question is: are the military funded applications sold through the Appstore?

Guess so BulletFlight is available in the AppStore for $29.99

How much from the Apple store (-1, Redundant)

dirk (87083) | more than 5 years ago | (#27654991)

Since we all know it is wrong to jailbreak the iPhone, are these apps available through the store? I would really like to download them for my phone, it would be a lot of fun to try this out with my bomb disabling robot.

Re:How much from the Apple store (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655097)

They are in the store, just $10000 per license. Special government pricing.

The EULA (5, Interesting)

Norsefire (1494323) | more than 5 years ago | (#27654995)

You also agree that you will not use these products for any purposes prohibited by United States law, including, without limitation, the development, design, manufacture or production of missiles, or nuclear, chemical or biological weapons.

We've all had a good laugh at that clause but they may actually be close to breaching it.

Re:The EULA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655061)

Because Apple couldn't possibly give the US government a different EULA???

Re:The EULA (4, Insightful)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655115)

I doubt that US law prohibits the military from developing missiles.

Re:The EULA (1)

bobdotorg (598873) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655739)

I doubt that US law prohibits the military from developing missiles.

Shhhh. Don't mention the NSA's issuance of iPods with their custom iTap software.

Re:The EULA (5, Informative)

mysidia (191772) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655127)

They're military, they might not even necessarily have to obey any EULA.

In theory, the feds could invoke eminent domain and force Apple to sell the IP rights if necessary.

So Apple has every incentive to be accommodating to their needs...

But most likely they just buy the DISTRIBUTION certificates from Apple, as any developer could, so they can sign and deploy their own apps on their own without necessarily having to put anything on the app store.

Not all apps are necessarily public.

Re:The EULA (4, Informative)

tyrione (134248) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655615)

They're military, they might not even necessarily have to obey any EULA.

In theory, the feds could invoke eminent domain and force Apple to sell the IP rights if necessary.

So Apple has every incentive to be accommodating to their needs...

But most likely they just buy the DISTRIBUTION certificates from Apple, as any developer could, so they can sign and deploy their own apps on their own without necessarily having to put anything on the app store.

Not all apps are necessarily public.

Wrong on too many levels. Your rationale with eminent domain has massive holes in it, never mind the Federal Military Top Secret IP angle. By the way, NeXT had a long history with the CIA. We worked for probably 15 years and continued after the Merger. There were custom builds for a client's need for a massive price.

Re:The EULA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655633)

"In theory, the feds could invoke eminent domain and force Apple to sell the IP rights if necessary."

Not really. Not only would that set a bad precedent. The military really doesn't need to purchase the IP rights since they're not producing anything for the general public.

Re:The EULA (1)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655141)

That clause says nothing about using the products to support the use of such weapons.

Re:The EULA (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655411)

Indeed, operation is not the same as production.

What's next? (5, Funny)

Alsn (911813) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655007)

For all your warfare needs, iWar includes anything a soldier needs! Ballistics calculations for artillery, able to say "we mean no harm" in fourhundred and twenty six different languages, a full guide of where to find usable drinking water and much much more. Subscribe now and you'll get free add-ons for a full six months! iWar, saving the lives of soldiers not near you!

Well, I guess this proves it. (1)

koterica (981373) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655013)

Apple is evil after all.

I wonder if you can get these apps from the appstore?

Re:Well, I guess this proves it. (1)

JustOK (667959) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655073)

oblig iKill

but will it be DRM free?

Great idea (2, Interesting)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655015)

Not. Unless they are getting milspec units I wonder how many lives are being put in danger by using consumer products in such varied environments. The mountains of Afghanistan in winter and the deserts of Iraq are probably both well outside of the rated range of these devices. Not only that but what happens when they get a little wet? I think the average joe shmoe probably treats his electronics a bit better than your average grunt. I personally love the idea of using something like this to control things (my wife has a sewing machine that uses a gameboy color for a controller), I'm just not soldiers are the best target audience for such efforts.

Re:Great idea (4, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655143)

Do you understand the concept of 'disposable'? There won't be classified information on these things (that's on the network). When they break, you toss 'em. I don't have a link at the moment, but military personnel have been using consumer GPS units since the war broke out.

A mil spec iPod would be too heavy to move without a Humvee and too expensive to give to anyone under the rank of Captain.

Re:Great idea (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655209)

How disposable is the device if you are in the field relying on it to bring back realtime intelligence from a drone? The problem is that you have a very expensive information collection system built to battle standards and tactics built around those systems and then you cheap out on the part that makes the information actually usable. Like normal this is the brass crapping on the guy in the field after spending trillions of dollars on the toys. Who's brilliant idea was it to build the modern information centric battle systems without designing a milspec general purpose computer for the field soldiers?!? Oh yeah they canceled that in 2007 after completely screwing up the process from design to implementation (land warrior).

Re:Great idea (1)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655289)

What kind of design deficiencies would you expect to find in an iPod touch that make it less suitable than a device designed from the start to have battlefield durability? I'd bet the only thing between the iPod touch and mil spec certification is a testing regimen. I'd also bet that the iPod touch would be at least as durable as any device of comparable utility with a cost within an order of magnitude of the iPod.

Re:Great idea (1)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655325)

Nah, I doubt they use extended temperature components or water tight seals everywhere like a milspec unit would.

Re:Great idea (5, Funny)

flyingsquid (813711) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655345)

The important thing to keep in mind here is that equipping our troops with the iPod Touch and iPhone provides them with something that no other technology can: that smug, hipper-than-thou sense of superiority that comes with being an Apple user. If Al Qaeda and the Taliban are still using Microsoft products, then their morale will suffer because they don't have the latest, cutting-edge gadgets, and they will lose tactical effectiveness on the battlefield.

Re:Great idea (1)

jcaplan (56979) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655591)

Its disposable because the device is so cheap that when one breaks then you just use your buddy's device. If its mil-spec you might end up with no backup device or no device at all. When my nephew was in Iraq they had problems getting enough mil-spec radios for their Guard trucks - they had been ripped out and given to other units that had shipped out earlier.

Re:Great idea (1)

bryanp (160522) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655481)

A mil spec iPod would be too heavy to move without a Humvee and too expensive to give to anyone under the rank of Captain.

Cute, but you can buy consumer cell phones that meet mil spec for shock, dust, etc.. I have one now and I'm about to get a new one. (the old one still works, but I've had it several years now and want something a bit newer.) They aren't much bulkier or heavier than the non-rugged counterparts, and aren't significantly more expensive either.

Re:Great idea (3, Insightful)

ColdWetDog (752185) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655595)

Yes, I was being a tad sarcastic - but you don't even need to re engineer the thing. Just put it in a nice holster / protector and you are most of the way there. And like I said, they can be pretty much disposable.

If this works out, then somebody can build a mil spec iPod from scratch, but as a demonstration of concept, I don't see anything wrong with it. 10 million teenagers can't be too far wrong...

Re:Great idea (1)

kaikane (1534025) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655549)

OOOOhhhh. Just think of all those "disposable" iPhones hitting the streets of Kabul, or Teheran, or wherever we hit next. That should create much more employment for war-torn economies than any US aid funds

Re:Great idea (1)

LiNKz (257629) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655721)

Just a nudge at your GPS stuff..

Civilian GPS devices are generally not as hardened as milspec devices and should not be used in the AOR (both in the physical and electrical/jamming sense).. I seriously believe that these pieces of technology should be considered a secondary tool that provides ease in their jobs.. but a compass and a map should too be a requirement.. regardless of milspec'd hardware.

Re:Great idea (2, Interesting)

LoRdTAW (99712) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655151)

Your average grunt is joe schmo. I have a few friends who all served in Iraq. All of them had electronic gadgets to help pass the time. They had ipods, laptops, digital cameras, hand held gaming systems etc. One of my friends bought his fancy $2000 digital SLR and it survived no problem. One friend did have his mp3 cd player broken when some guy was throwing rocks at him. Other than that all their gadgets made it back just fine. BUT I am not suggesting Ipods and the like are battle field ready gear. Maybe Apple will team up with a military contractor to provide mil-spec units if they prove to be useful.

Re:Great idea (1)

guruevi (827432) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655679)

All they need is a decent cover for these things and it will work just fine. Solid state electronics these days are already near indestructible except for the LCD. Protect that and you're fine, they have leather holders with a hard flap that work great for under $15

Tradeoffs, tradeoffs... (2, Interesting)

fuzzyfuzzyfungus (1223518) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655189)

While, as you say, these are probably being used somewhat past their rated specs, I'm not sure that that is a critical problem. Touches are solid state and reasonably well sealed by default, and I'm sure that shoving them in a Pelican case isn't exactly rocket surgery. I suspect that, in practice, they survive pretty well.

Beyond that, though, there is some truth to the old cliche "the perfect is the enemy of the good". Which are you better off with, the Touch running off-the-shelf software for under $250 a unit now, or the hardened mil-spec widget wending its way through the contractor process that will cost 4 times as much and be available in small quantities in 8 months?

I'd be very disappointed to hear that soldiers had grown critically dependent on the things, and wandered around lost whenever they didn't have them; but, assuming that is avoided, what is the issue? If a device improves your performance, and is available 90% of the time, you are better off on average. If these devices turn out to only last an average of 6 months, then we'll need to treat them as a consumable, hardly a novel procedure. Anybody who operates on the assumption that consumer gear will survive as well in Tora Bora as it does in Starbucks is a moron; but that isn't the only assumption you can operate on.

Re:Tradeoffs, tradeoffs... (2)

afidel (530433) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655307)

The problem is the HAVE the ruggedized,secure general purpose computer system, they just chose not to fund it. It's called Land Warrior and it runs Linux on XScale so should be simple to design for. Building Glabal Hawks for $125M and then skimping on a couple thousand per field user is just the kind of crap the military loves to do to the soldier in the field.

Re:Great idea (5, Informative)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655239)

This kind of case [otterbox.com] is what the iPods get put in. I'd say they're probably close enough to mil spec that it makes the iPods clearly more cost effective. It's not like iPods are particularly fragile to begin with - once you protect them from moisture and sand, the only significant vulnerability that remains is the touch screen itself, which is easily protected with a flip cover. I doubt that temperature is much of an issue, given that they are all solid-state devices.

Another example of an enclosure is this one, [knightarmco.com] for the first-gen touch, shown at the bottom of the page with an attached sniper rifle. This is clearly one of the best-protected iPods in the world. If you read more on that site, you'll see that they have done plenty of testing to ensure that the iPod can survive the shock of the attached rifle being fired numerous times.

Re:Great idea (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655251)

I washed and dried my Ipod nano, and it has continuted to work fine for years!

Ummmm.... (1)

copponex (13876) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655253)

Besides keeping their investment intact, do you think the Pentagon gives a good goddamn about their soldier's lives? Look at how they treat them once they've been chewed up by years of service.

I guarantee they did an analysis that compared the cost of creating a milspec device with the same capabilities and how much money they would lose if x number of soldiers died due to malfunction. The only thing that could have changed their minds is a powerful politician and a well paid lobbyist with some contracting firm.

Re:Great idea (3, Interesting)

TubeSteak (669689) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655273)

Not. Unless they are getting milspec units I wonder how many lives are being put in danger by using consumer products in such varied environments.

Soldiers have been using consumer grade electronics in the field for a very long time now. Army procurement in Iraq & Afghanistan is glacial at best and more often than not, its easier to order something stateside and have is shipped over either by the company or your family.

And now for a tragedy in two parts:
Date: December 2004
Setting- SecDef Rumsfeld is taking questions from 2,300 soldiers in a hangar at Camp Buehring, Kuwait.

Part 1.
Army Spc. Thomas Wilson: My question is more logistical. We've had troops in Iraq for coming up on three years and we've always staged here out of Kuwait. Now why do we soldiers have to dig through local landfills for pieces of scrap metal and compromise ballistic glass to up-armor our vehicles and why don't we have those resources readily available to us?

[Applause from the soldiers]

Sec Def Rumsfeld: I missed the first part of your question. And could you repeat it for me?

Army Spc. Thomas Wilson: Yes, Mr. Secretary. Our soldiers have been fighting in Iraq for coming up on three years. A lot of us are getting ready to move north relatively soon. Our vehicles are not armored. We're digging pieces of rusted scrap metal and compromised ballistic glass that's already been shot up, dropped, busted, picking the best out of this scrap to put on our vehicles to take into combat. We do not have proper armament vehicles to carry with us north.

Part 2.
Sec Def Rumsfeld: I talked to the General coming out here about the pace at which the vehicles are being armored. They have been brought from all over the world, wherever they're not needed, to a place here where they are needed. I'm told that they are being - the Army is - I think it's something like 400 a month are being done. And it's essentially a matter of physics. It isn't a matter of money. It isn't a matter on the part of the Army of desire. It's a matter of production and capability of doing it.

As you know, you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time.

The End

who cares if it's not milspec (1)

bigtrike (904535) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655303)

Milspec can make anything absurdly expensive to produce. This is important when you're building nuclear weapons where failures are very expensive.

It's not so expensive when the cost of one breaking is to simply replace it with another practically free device. Surely the rugged cases they are in will protect them from water and shock.

Iraq and Motorola Talkabouts (5, Informative)

ThrowAwaySociety (1351793) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655685)

You may remember that, in the earlier days of the Iraq war, soldiers would write home begging for their families to send them Talkabout FRS radios. Yup, those little handheld radios sold in blister packs at Wal-Mart for camping trips.

Those things are, doubtless, less secure, less durable, less resistant to interference, and less powerful than purpose-built military communications systems would be. However, they had one big advantage: they were available to the soldiers when they needed them.

If the military has trouble getting a mature technology like handheld radios into the hands the troops, you can bet that they'd flub something like handheld computers even worse. Sometimes, it's better to just buy the darned things at Wal-Mart.

How well do they take being dropped / shot at? How (1)

Joe The Dragon (967727) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655017)

How well do they take being dropped / shot at? How about systems with Itunes?

Re:How well do they take being dropped / shot at? (4, Funny)

gmhowell (26755) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655171)

I could shoot 'at' an iPod all day long and not damage it. It's when I accidentally hit the target that there may be problems.

Re:How well do they take being dropped / shot at? (3, Interesting)

AndrewNeo (979708) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655313)

I dunno, you should ask this guy! [flickr.com]

Microsoft Issuing WinMobile Devices To Soldiers (4, Funny)

CyberSlammer (1459173) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655021)

According to the Ballmer testing division they make excellent projectiles, they have a 99.9% chance of putting an eye out.

Re:Microsoft Issuing WinMobile Devices To Soldiers (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655445)

In the new ad, Kristen says "I guess I'm not cool enough to be a sniper" as she ties into her Zune while walking into the army mess tent.

Re:Microsoft Issuing WinMobile Devices To Soldiers (1)

Own3d-You (1082423) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655627)

Is that like some kind of chair launching device?

In other news... (3, Funny)

Starteck81 (917280) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655023)

Senators were heard saying quote:"These iPhones have become quite useful to the military. I guess it was a good thing we bought a couple to try out even thought they can't really 'jailbreak' you if you get caught taking bribes.

But do they support ogg? (1)

vivek7006 (585218) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655045)

Meh..

Re:But do they support ogg? (1)

Chabo (880571) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655129)

If Rockbox adds support, then yes. :)

tactical warning notice required? (1)

j-stroy (640921) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655101)

Retreating fanboys may be butt-hurt.

RAINING BLOOD (1)

bridgeco (1385677) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655103)

Does this mean we can expect a little Slayer in the next iPod commercial?

Other Uses (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655109)

See? Another application of Steve Jobs Reality distortion field in action.
Especially against Armies of Developed Nation.
Want an IPOD? Surrender first !

Ever wanted to (5, Funny)

Overkill Nbuta (1035654) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655121)

Ever wanted to blow up the **** out of terrorists?

There is an app for that.

Re:Ever wanted to (1)

purpleraison (1042004) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655283)

Ever wanted to blow up the **** out of terrorists?

There is an app for that.

Friggin hilarious! Thank you.

Hmmm (4, Interesting)

BoneFlower (107640) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655123)

I like the idea. Smartphones have enough computing power and sufficient battery life to perform militarily useful functions, with a minimum of added weight to the soldiers gear.

I'm not sure about the platform choice though. One company controls the hardware and software. There are no alternatives in either category that allow you to benefit from prior investments- replacing the hardware or OS requires junking everything you already have. And if the public APIs don't let you do what you need, and Apple can't or won't, it won't do what you need and thats that.

Android, or even Windows Mobile, I think would be better. A lot easier to switch to another device and minimize training costs, a lot easier and cheaper to get a device custom designed and built for specific military applications. These two are far more open- anyone with a properly trained engineering team and some money can make devices for these platforms. You need a specialized gadget integrated? You'll have a dozen companies salivating at defense budget dollars. You'll get it done, balancing capability and cost will be a meaningful choice and you can make it based on the needs and the budget, not because it's the best of limited options.

Re:Hmmm (1)

astat (959047) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655231)

Well, even the army needs to be cool nowadays. Can't visit a school with mere Windows Mobile.

Re:Hmmm (3, Informative)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655339)

How exactly would a non-iPod device have lower training costs? Part of the allure of the iPod Touch is that so many soldiers already own them, and plenty more are familiar enough to use them with minimal training, and that's without even directly addressing the fact that the iPod has the simplest and most intuitive interface of the options.

If the military decides that the iPod touch is an important platform to keep around, they can force Apple into enough of a licensing agreement that the government can hire Apple's OEM to keep making the model they want indefinitely.

Re:Hmmm (2, Insightful)

pimpimpim (811140) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655755)

I'm not sure about the platform choice though. One company controls the hardware and software. There are no alternatives in either category that allow you to benefit from prior investments- replacing the hardware or OS requires junking everything you already have.

sounds like the average military/government spec to me.

asdf (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655155)

what happens when they get stolen from the enemy...they will be using our iphones against us...lol...real smart idea

Toggle (0)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655169)

Reminds me of the Toggle character from recent Doonesbury strips. U.S. Soldier in Iraq, he drove a jeep into a roadside bomb after missing warnings because he was using an iPod while driving. Now suffering TBI with chunks of iPod apparently still embedded in his head.

Re:Toggle (3, Interesting)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655351)

I was more reminded of this Doonesbury [doonesbury.com] .

aren't those thing built in China? (4, Insightful)

atarione (601740) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655229)

what could possibly go wrong?

there have been stories about the Chinese sneaking counterfeit chips into military application some of which have made there way into military aircraft.

using a consumer gadget built in china seems like a truly epically bad idea.

Re:aren't those thing built in China? (1)

athlon02 (201713) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655341)

I understand the concern, but I'm not that worried about it... they are not using them in missiles, aircraft, ships, etc. They are using them as supplements for calculations, video players, and remote controls for small robots. While there could be problems, they are likely to be on the smaller scale. And knowing how strict the military is on specs, I imagine they tested at least a few before mass distribution.

Re:aren't those thing built in China? (2, Insightful)

644bd346996 (1012333) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655389)

The military would never amount to more than a fraction of a percent of the iPod touch sales, so anybody attempting espionage or sabotage would have to subvert a huge number of iPods in order to have an effect on the military that is distinguishable from the regular failure rate, and the problem would probably be noticed by the general public long before the military was significantly affected.

Re:aren't those thing built in China? (1)

db32 (862117) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655495)

You have no idea how many people it takes to run all of the abacuses that the military uses. It is pretty difficult to get any kind of equipment for calculations that wasn't made in China, but at least an abacus is easier to check for problems.

Designed in California, Made in China (1)

fitash (1368347) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655269)

And Used in Irak

neato (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655279)

I don't see anything* that could go wrong with this.

*
1. Needing to wear gloves at any point at all.
2. Dust.
3. Rain.
4. Needing reliable input at all, rather than the inherent imprecision of touchscreen + accelerometer.
5. Needing to actually look professional, or needing to pass yourself off as an actual member of the military.

No, this is ... iSucks are always a good idea.

It's about time (3, Interesting)

indytx (825419) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655343)

Much of the clothing, camping, and cold weather gear available at a local REI performs better than what is issued to U.S. soldiers. The military has been slow to adopt consumer products which may work better than what is currently being supplied. This is gradually changing, and it's a change for the better. You don't always need everything to be radiation hardened. Sometimes the best product for a given job is available now, and you don't want to wait for it to be tested ad nauseum, debated, defended, and advocated through the convoluted military procurement process. An iPod Touch is relatively cheap, cheap enough that it's almost disposable. On the other hand, it's too bad there's not an option for AA batteries. Recharging is tough in the field.

Re:It's about time (4, Funny)

Locke2005 (849178) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655609)

Recharging is tough in the field. What?!? Don't Humvees have cigarette lighter sockets? Next you'll be telling me the military version doesn't even have cupholders!

Why are they just doing this now? (4, Insightful)

d_jedi (773213) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655373)

PDAs/Smartphones which have the desired functionality have existed for many years before the iPhone/iPod touch.
And using C# with the .NET compact framework is much nicer than developing for the iPhone (background processes, yeah!)

Re:Why are they just doing this now? (3, Informative)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655419)

Actually Special Forces have had access to PDAs for a few years now that can access to Global Hawk imagery real time. [airspacemag.com] They can pinpoint an area on a map to cue the plane to scan or to send down historical imagery. The only real new thing here is that they are using Apple devices.

Re:Why are they just doing this now? (4, Informative)

DustyShadow (691635) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655435)

Here is a better link [aviationweek.com] .

Re:Why are they just doing this now? (2, Interesting)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655759)

And using C# with the .NET compact framework is much nicer than developing for the iPhone

No, it's not. The iPhone OS is a nice, easy platform to develop for. If you're stuck in windows thinking, maybe it's frustrating to you because you're made to use MVC, or cause it doesn't work the way windows does. But that's your mental limitations, not a problem with the platform.

Having done both, I'd go with the iPhone.

Never judge a book by it's cover (-1, Troll)

AnalPerfume (1356177) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655427)

At first when I read the title in Thunderbird I rolled my eyes rather cynically, but it appears they have genuine functionality to help the troops on the ground. That being the case, why not give em iPhones and iPods? As a Linux user and FOSS advocate I'd rather it wasn't a closed platform but it may well be the best option so again, why not? Anything which can potentially help communicating with the locals is a potential peacemaker, which saves lives on all sides.

The cynical part of me wonders if it's partly a sweetener to quell the anger of the troops not being properly equipped with stuff they need to keep them alive. No body armor for the APCs but here's an iPod. The US funding issue may well be different from the UK, where it's certainly an issue.

Re:Never judge a book by it's cover (-1, Troll)

Anonymous Coward | more than 5 years ago | (#27655569)

thanks for taking an issue from 2005 and trying to make it still seem pertinent today. i just love how one person says something years ago and others caw on about it for year after year even long after the issue is resolved.

as a linux user and foss advocate you're probably still droning on about microsoft bob.

it gets real old. if you want to talk about current events at least make sure your facts are current. i don't think it's too much to ask.

American (1)

Culture20 (968837) | more than 5 years ago | (#27655605)

I'm glad it's an American company. I just wish the product were made in the USA.
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