The US Military is making a bold and impressive move by creating a smartphone and desktop app store for soldiers. The app store will be called the Army Marketplace and it will feature applications for both smartphones and desktop computers to help soldiers and new recruits. The app marketplace will also feature an agile software development process, where requests are put in for apps and developers can respond to the request and choose to build.
The main problem the app store is facing right now is device authentication. BlackBerry is the only smartphone certified to handle government data, and it can really only carry mail. The IT policies generally shut out all applications, and according to Lt. Col. Gregory Motes, chief of the Army’s new Mobile Applications Branch, “we don’t have a solution for authenticating applications or secure websites.” If a smartphone were to win authentication for apps, it would surely be a BlackBerry with policies that allow certain types of applications and block features that could reveal secure data.
It would have been great to see more BlackBerry apps entered in the contest, and it seems only 1 made the “Honorable Mention”. The app that did receive the honorable mention is called BB Slant and it’s really straight forward and actually pretty cool. The app lets a soldier create, respond to, or review sent reports containing a list of tasks for the user to complete via email on a BlackBerry. This is an excellent example of how the military can leverage encrypted BlackBerry email and make the job easier and more efficient. Slant Reports seem like a tedious routine operation and leveraging the fast, efficient nature of email and the BlackBerry keyboard could go a long way to improving this system.