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iVolution: Apples and Androids Drafted Into the Army?

The Apple iVolution has been going strong since the initial release of the iPod on October 23, 2001. Apple has significantly impacted cultures around the world; you can’t go around a corner these days without seeing the tell-tale white ear buds hanging from someone’s ears. iPods were so successful that they were followed up with a touchscreen variant, the iPod Touch, which was followed by the hugely successful iPhone and, most recently, the iPad. The iPad is making its mark, changing the way we fundamentally interact with computers.

Android is an open-source operating system created by Android Inc. designed to run on mobile platforms. Android Inc. was acquired in 2005 by Internet juggernaut Google, which, with the cooperation of members of the Open Handset Alliance, has created a software platform that is giving Apple a run for its money. Android is quickly snapping up chunks of Apple’s share of the mobile phone and tablet device market.

After all, the Android OS is open and a wealth of technology firms are developing applications that bring considerable value to Android devices; companies such as Mentor Graphics provide tools and services to aid developers in building a device on Android. Apple, on the other hand, has been criticized for having proprietary software and requiring developers to use only their tools; further, the Apple OS is held captive to Apple-built devices and app developers must go through a long application process to gain Apple’s approval to bring the app to fruition and sell/distribute their wares in the App Store. Many developers, frustrated with Apple’s rules, regulations, and requirements, much prefer innovating on Android.

Apple vs. Android

Apple vs. Android

Commercial off-the-shelf (COTS) tablet PCs are garnering considerable attention the world over. High-ranking officials in various military organizations around the world are investigating, and even adopting, iPads and Android tablets. Officials in the US Army, in fact, are anxious to get their hands on Apple and Android!

This geek has mixed feelings about this news. On the one hand, I celebrate the military for being open-minded and dedicated to delivering the latest and greatest technologies to warfighters. On the other hand, military standards are put in place to protect soldiers and if a COTS device doesn’t measure up (e.g., it can’t survive shock and vibration, extreme temperatures, or exposure to sand), it shouldn’t be fielded. What are your thoughts on COTS computers in the field?

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