Called Army Marketplace, it’s scheduled to become fully operational in August. The store is currently a restricted website, but they’re working on a storefront app for smartphones. Army Marketplace currently hosts seventeen Android apps and sixteen for iPhones. The best thing about it, Wired writes, is that soldiers can bypass the arduous process of creating apps for the Army and instead directly submit their wish list for specialized programs that don’t yet exist:

Imagine that a soldier wants an app instructing how to call for artillery fire, and the app doesn’t exist yet. The soldier would post a description of what she needs on a Marketplace forum, attracting discussion from fellow soldiers and potential designers. If other troops can’t home-brew a solution, the Army would open a bidding or contracting process from would-be vendors who’ve expressed interest on the thread. Ideally, the app would be available on Marketplace not long thereafter, with a nominal purchase price, a la the App Store or Android Market.

If only civil software bazaars worked that way. Read on…

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Just don’t search for Army Marketplace on the web because only members of the Department of Defense community with a username and password from intranets like Army Knowledge Online will be allowed to access the store.

The article goes on to note that the biggest hurdle is the fact that no mobile device has been certified yet to access the Army’s intranet and secure databases, which is an essential requirement for those specialized apps in the battlefield. The iPhone is currently in the process of certification and they’ve also begun testing out Android’s security features, which takes at least a year.

The Army recently made an announcement that they would begin testing Android as a possible software solution for the first-ever smartphone designed for the US military. Of course, Apple fans assumed the Army would choose the iPhone over Android, especially after successful field trials with the iPod touch. The Army said Google’s mobile operating system might power the Joint Battle Command Platform Handheld, which is designed to drive a range of specialized apps, such as tactical ground reporting, GPS tracking and mapping. Things could change in Apple’s favor, however, because Android is still a long way from being certified as a secure and trusted platform the Army requires.

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