The U.S. Army is about to get a new and improved app store for military smart phone users. The current one, Storefront, is very basic. The new app store, called Army Marketplace, not only lists army approved apps (17 for Android and 16 for iPhone at the moment), but also includes an “App Wanted” section where users can post descriptions of an app they need. If a developer (in uniform, or an army approved civilian with access to the Army Marketplace) is interested, a discussion can be started on an attached message board. The army hopes that the needed app will be quickly created and made available at the Army Marketplace. Developers can charge for their apps, although the army is also willing to pay developers to create needed apps that have been described by military smart phone users.
Only military personnel, and civilians with a need to be there, can use the Army Marketplace. This is the same kind of access policy used with hundreds of other military web sites, in an effort to allow rapid exchange of information among the troops, while not letting potential foes in on things that should be kept secret from the enemy. The main point of all this web presence is to take advantage of what the Internet does best; allow the rapid sharing of information. That now includes software for smart phones, and army leaders are trying to keep up.
For example, last year, the army set up a special military apps (“Apps For The Army”) program with the Apple Corporation. The results weren’t as spectacular as expected. Most of the successful submissions were simple, but useful, thing like electronics versions of manuals and other army documents, which now became more accessible because they could now easily be referred to via a smart phone. There were some more complex, interactive, apps, but it turned out that these were more difficult than anticipated for full time soldiers to churn out in their spare time.