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U.S. Government Chooses Android For Its Openness, Can Update Phones in 2 Weeks


The U.S. government has been testing Android phones for a couple of years now, but they expect to deliver them to soliders in 2012 according to a report from CNN. Up until this point, government officials and military personnel were not allowed to use smartphones for work-related activities, but with the ability to customize the operating system to their liking thanks to Android’s openness, things are about to change. The project to get smartphones and tablets running Android into the hands of our soldiers has finally been given the green light. For now, the devices are only capable of storing classified info, but within a few months, they should be able to transmit it over networks as well.

One of the surprising notes from this report has to do with the types of phones they will use. According to people familiar with the project, the government will not build specially designed hardware and will instead use commercial devices and then simply load them with an ultra-secure version of Android. With a secure Android smartphone, a soldier could potentially see fellow infantry on a digital map in the field, or an official could send an important dispatch from from anywhere without fear of security breaches.

Why not go with iOS devices? Because Apple refused to give the government access to their source code. And since Android is as open as it gets for a mobile OS, the choice was clear.

We also found it interesting that one of the contractors mentioned how quickly they could update their phones thanks to the OS they are running. He mentioned that once Google has released source for their latest update, that they can have a secure version up and running on phones within 2 weeks. Yeah, we’re looking at you now, carriers.

Via:  CNN

Cheers Greg and Daniel!

  • Spunker88

     Score one for Android and open source. With the source they can easily make sure all security holes are patched, restrict access to 3rd party apps, and load it on military spec phones, the Casio Commando comes to mind.

    It would be really nice if they contributed back to Android when they find security holes, etc. Military grade security plus the new Market app validation would really put the end to all of the criticisms that Android has been getting lately.

  • Martin Pelant

    And this it the military android phone/tablet 
    It is plugged to external batteries stored in backpack

  • Lataviadaddy

    I just want to say as an American soldier to all of you that pay taxes THANKS FOR THE NEW PHONE

  • Anonymous

    I’m part of the military and my Government issue phone has been and Android for more than a year, first we got Moto Devours and now we got Casio G’Zone Commando’s (which are awesome btw).

  • Sruel3216

    yea cuz the cia is in bed with google

  • Spider Matt

    How long before the government source code winds up on Wikileaks?

  • Good Job USA

    That would be one hell of a custom rom

  • “He mentioned that once Google has released source for their latest update, that they can have a secure version up and running on phones within 2 weeks. Yeah, we’re looking at you now, carriers.”

    Carriers have nothing to do with it. A “secure version” might be just a simple set of patches that adds certain encryption support and such, and updating those patches is usually a trivial task.

  • Anonymous

    Finally a story I reported got published…this was awesome to see when it popped up on my news feed this morning….Go AMERICA! (At least the military knows how to make good decisions)

  • Told you Android would win the war.

    Well…they won the battle too, so I guess you just suck Apple.

  • Anonymous

    The thought of a milspec Nexus just gave me a nerdgasim.

  • Yeah they just dont appear as deadly with armor piercing bullets, daisy cutter bombs, infra red spot light directed helicopter support fire….. and they were going to use iPhones, they just wouldnt appear as deadly.
    Now if they all rocked Custom ROM havin RAZR MAXX phones, then TRUCK YEAH !!!
    I say custom rom’s obviously, you cant have Moto BLUR screwing up your request for paladins to bombard an area forward of your location. 
    so awesome.

  • Tim242

    The Android vs iOS debate is live on CNN’s website haha

  • ddevito

    This is what I keep telling the iSheep. iOS is for consumers, but when you need to get REAL work done only Android gives you the kind of flexibility that greatly helps the enterprise (and in this case our own government).

    I’m seeing it here at my job. Lots of people are bringing in their iToys and we laugh at them because, although they’re great, they don’t offer ANY enterprise flexibility.

    This is also why the Government uses Linux for its MOST secure operating systems. Is Linux more secure than Windows or OS X? That’s up for debate, but the reason it works so well is because it’s an OPEN system.

    Open Source allows for more flexibility. A win for Android!! Cheers!

  • Josh Groff

    Manufacturers and carriers have to jump through legal hoops to allow updates, the government and developers can bypass this. Why is it such an issue to some people that it needs to be constantly brought up?

  • Ian Wilson

    America is so fucked, our soldiers won’t be able to resist Angry Birds and Facebook on the battlefield

    • ddevito

      ummmm, yeah – this is EXACTLY why they chose Android. To customize the OS to eliminate such apps and functionality as the Android Market.

      But otherwise your comment was funny (I guess)

    • Anonymous

      Ryan’s Status:
      Getting shot at! lol

  • Anonymous

    Phone manufacturers are probably salivating over the contract to make a ruggedized device.  Unfortunately in order to deal with the elements in some theaters of operation they will need something a bit more rugged than an off the shelf Android Phone.

    Also, Crackberry just died a little on the inside after hearing this news.  One of RIM’s major contracts is with the government.

    • ddevito

      dude your computer just barfed

      • Anonymous

        yeah i dunno why disqus decided to dump all the CSS into my post.  I edited and deleted.

  • Anonymous

    Loving this!!!

  • I use both platforms, and there’s no question: if you’re looking to tailor an OS to exact requirements, you only really have the one choice.  Apple has been willing to give up markets if it can’t get them by doing what it wants; its loss.

    From the sounds of it, the government will probably be using Nexus phones for the most part, since it clearly needs an unlocked bootloader.

    • PC_Tool

      Soon we’ll see a Panasonic Android Tough-Phone?  

      Ewww…..   😛

      • ddevito

        Check out the Toughpad A1.

        A toughbook Tablet if you will. Android based of course  🙂 

        And definitely not ieewww

  • Anonymous

    Now if someone can develop an app to launch bazookas from my Xoom and it would be perfect. Saving the world from my throne! Priceless.

    • Anonymous

      Actually, I’ve heard they were testing/considering apps for artillery and drone guidance, so your wish may come true.

  • Bdawson0801


    • Anonymous

      fcuk yeah…

      • Bob

        saving the day from the….

        well, you know the rest.

  • Anonymous

    This is HUGE for Android’s reputation! Seriously…  Nice job Andy! 🙂

  • Anonymous

    I hear they looked into Motorola devices, but Moto said they couldn’t allow it due to NATO guidelines. They told them to check MOTODEV and that they might release a US military enabled phone in Europe in the next few months though.

    I bet Casio gets a big boost from this.

    • Jordan Webb

      I’m surprised Moto didn’t go for it, to be honest. It’d have been a huge cash cow, cred boost, and a great way to tell #OPMOSH to take a hike.

      • Anonymous

        Well, we don’t know for sure. I was just being a smart-a**. I would bet on Casio though. The G’zOne is a pretty solid piece of Android technology.

        • Jordan Webb

          Moto’s the American manufacturer though, which might put them slightly ahead of Casio in the running…especially with the massive batteries Moto is packing in now (long runtimes are probably fairly important) and the hardware-locked systems.

          • Anonymous

            True. If you look at the boeing-airbus tanker deal, that had a big impact. With electronics, specifically these devices, I think it might have less an impact due to most of the manufacturing being overseas anyway. It wouldn’t necessarily create any jobs here and, personally, I’d rather take a G’zOne Commando into harsh conditions than a Razr.

            This is based on them using devices that are already manufactured and loading a custom ROM.

          • Anonymous

            Moto did make the Defy, though, which was slightly ruggedized. Plus, they have all kinds of experience with military, hardened hardware.

            Still, I’m glad that the DOD is going with standard equipment rather than something custom. A GNex at $700 is a steal compared to what the DOD would get if it was a one-off from a contractor (would probably cost $2500 and have a 500MHz Intel chip and 128MB RAM with a 480×320 resistive touchscreen).

          • Definitely true on the cost part. For some reason I still feel like it will be over priced. Something like $1000 to flash each ROM.

  • If only updating all phones within 2 weeks was the standard for everyone

    • Jordan Webb

      If only every manufacturer had a military budget.

      • Anonymous

         Jordan it’s not so much as budget as it is with corporate red tape.  The military moves a hell of a lot faster than corporate companies when it comes to technology.for the troops and national security initiatives vs consumer or B2B clients ie.. BI, Database, Corporate Applications etc…

        Yes, budget comes to mind (and rightfully so for the military) but the military is updating and developing software that is more complex than the regular corporate B2b “Agile” methodology of development.

        Their processess and testing are more intensive, with faster outcomes. Good for the military. 

        And Apple can have their source code our soldiers deserve better anyway!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!