Skip to main content

US Army testing iPhones, Androids for combat

Army-iPhoneApple often likes to call their products things like “magical” and “revolutionary.” But “deadly” could soon be added to the list. According to the Wall Street Journal, the United States Army will soon begin field testing Apple’s iPhone and iPad, as well smartphones and tablets based on Google’s Android operating system to see whether they can withstand the pressures of combat.

Armed with a variety of battle-centric apps, the same devices we use to find a restaurant or play Angry Birds could be used for everything from expediting medical treatment for wounded soldiers to helping track down the enemy.

One app, for starters, would allow an injured soldier to relay his exact location on the battlefield, name, type of injury and other crucial information to medical personnel. The Army plans to begin speed testing such an app to see whether it actually reduces the time needed to treat a downed man, or merely clogs the system.

An app called “SoldierEyes” (not available in the App Store, just FYI), a navigation tool, allows soldiers to use the phone’s camera to survey his or her surroundings with “augmented reality” to calculate the direction and distance to their objectives. And other apps give soldiers mobile biometrics tools for identifying particular enemies.

While smartphones have become a must-have device for many civilians, the Army is taking a conservative approach towards their adoption for combat purposes.

“We want to give people the right phones for the right reasons, not just give them another shiny thing to hang on their equipment carriers,” Michael McCarthy, one of the Army heads in charge of the smartphone project. He added that, in order for the Army to add iPhones and Android handsets to their list of battle tools, they must be both inexpensive and tough enough to withstand the pressures of combat. The Army won’t “spend $2,500 to ruggedize a $200 phone,” he said.

In total, the Army has about 85 different apps they are testing for battle, some created by the military, others made by commercial designers. The testing of these apps and other smartphone technologies, which has been taking place since at least 2010, has so far cost about $4.2 million.

Editors' Recommendations

Andrew Couts
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Features Editor for Digital Trends, Andrew Couts covers a wide swath of consumer technology topics, with particular focus on…
The iPhone 16 Pro Max could set a new record for the iPhone
iPhone 16 Pro Max dummy unit next to a iPhone 15 Pro Max.

The iPhone 16 Pro Max (left) and iPhone 15 Pro Max ZONEofTech

We have good news if you're hoping for a larger iPhone this fall. The iPhone 16 Pro Max will have a significantly bigger display than the iPhone 15 Pro Max — at least according to the latest leak.

Read more
You’ll soon be able to control your iPhone and iPad with your eyes
The iPad Air 4 in hand.

Apple has announced a bunch of new accessibility features that will arrive later this year for iPhone and iPad owners. Notable among them is the ability to interact with iOS and iPadOS interfaces using eye movement, which is something that's seen in a similar system on Mac hardware.

The company calls it Eye Tracking, and it's a system built on the Dwell Control foundations. So far, Dwell Control has been available as part of the Accessibility Keyboard on macOS, allowing users to execute mouse actions using eye and head gestures.

Read more
How to connect an iPhone to a Mac with or without a cable
An iPhone being used on a MacBook as a webcam thanks to Apple's Continuity Camera feature in macOS Ventura.

When you connect your iPhone to your Mac computer, you’ll be able to access several features and settings. Whether you’d like to upload or offload media from your Mac to your iOS device, or you’d like to download a firmware update for your iPhone, you’ll be able to do so by connecting your smartphone to your Mac with a Lightning or USB-C cable. You can also link your iPhone to your Mac wirelessly, and our guide will provide you with detailed instructions for both wired and wireless connection methods.

Here’s a guide on how to connect your device to a Mac, with or without a USB-C or Lightning cable attached.

Read more