Why no military apps?

Discussion in 'iOS Apps' started by BiscuitsJaM, Nov 28, 2008.

  1. BiscuitsJaM macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2008
    I've looked and there's almost nothing useful for soldiers in the app store...

    The obvious military apps:
    Military manuals - most of these are available in pdf format, with lots of charts and images. The only way I've found to access these is to convert the format to html, host on a website, load in safari, save using instapaper, then read at my leisure. None of the current eBook software can handle these documents (Bookshelf has no searching and won't let you zoom in on pictures, while stanza, books, and ereader won't support images and charts)

    Military maps - I want a simple topographical map viewer that lets me input or find grid coordinates in MGRS format. Also, find the distance and azimuth (in degrees or mils) between two points. And, I'd like to be able to plot routes with waypoints and show that on the map, and show the data in some kind of table (waypoint 1A, grid AB12345678, direction 186degrees, distance 4220m) and set important grid locations/phaselines (Rally Points, Casualty Collection Points, etc.). Sadly, Google Maps and Google Earth don't support MGRS, topographical maps, or any of the rest. Nothing else does either, so far as I can tell.

    Translation software that can be used offline - Arabic, Pashto, Dari. Everything I've seen so far requires an internet connection, and nothing seems to support Pashto or Dari.

    Flashcard viewer - There's several of these programs out there, so I'll need to find one that works. I have cards on common radio formats, range estimation data, demolitions calculations, bridge classification, CAS data, etc. etc.

    Checklists - I'm sure there is lots of software that does checklists for PCCs (Pre-Combat Checks), vehicle/ruck loadplans, etc.
  2. edesignuk Moderator emeritus


    Mar 25, 2002
    London, England
    When did iPods/iPhones become standard military issue in the field? :confused:
  3. synth3tik macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    I am totally sure the military would put all their stuff in the app store.

    The military is so far beyond iPhones.
  4. BiscuitsJaM thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2008
    People in the military have iPods... It's odd that there aren't third-party productivity apps like there are for other professionals. There would me a market for them.
  5. RoboCop001 macrumors 65816

    Oct 4, 2005
    Toronto, Canada
    Because they have their own private store, probably. Remember how you can have an internal app store for your company?
  6. fabian9 macrumors 65816


    Nov 28, 2007
    Bristol, UK
    There are lots of apps out there that let you open PDFs, mail.app being one of them along with any iphone file transfer software like briefcase, airsharing etc. won't one of them do the trick?

  7. alphaod macrumors Core


    Feb 9, 2008
    The closest we can get to getting map software from the military is Google maps.
  8. BiscuitsJaM thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2008
    mail and airsharing don't let you search within documents. Haven't tried briefcase yet, but maybe something else works.

    Alphaod: google maps doesn't support topographical maps or the Military Grid Reference System. It is useless for the military.

    Robocop: I doubt the military does. Either they issue gear for free or they don't. They don't sell stuff.
  9. SFC Archer macrumors 68000

    SFC Archer

    Nov 9, 2007
    Troy, MT
    It is not standard military issue and that is why he asked the question. He is wanting to take advantage of another tool that is available to him (the iPhone) and be able to use this platform to help better his soldiering and train them using different technology. He has not asked anything other then wanting to be a better soldier and train himself and others so that they increase their survivability. Open you mind dude. Only officers and Very Senior NCO's get crack berry's and we know how good and reliable they are.

    The military cannot put stuff in the App Store because it would take an act of congress and would also be a miss use of tax payer money...who would get the profits? It can't be done legally. However individuals with programming skills and the knowledge of the military could do this as long as the material is out their for the public and has been declassified. A dev doing something like this for the Soldiers and Marines of this country would be doing a great service in support of the troops, helping them increase their knowledge, access to quick reference material and training with high quality graphics and sound. So...no the military can not do it....but those that support the troops could.

    The military as a whole may be beyond the iPhone, But the individual soldier and leader finds and uses every resource he can to change and make better what he is asked to do. Are you saying the iPhone is not good enough for this?

    No...we do not have our own private store. Currently DOD contracts with Sprint and Crackberry's. There are no iPhones in the inventory. Only those that soldiers buy and use personally are available and currently their is nothing in they system that has the combined assetts of an iPhone.

    What the OP has asked is a very legitimate and important question. He is asking for help from those with the knowledge, abilities and care to help him and others with those areas he has addressed. Would it be profitable, probably not but one could make enough to stay even. It would be patriotic and it could save lives and bring more soldiers home with assisted training tools.

    The police in new york city issued iPods to their officers and then provide training videos for them to use and review. This is an outstanding training source and makes it interesting for those needing the training instead of the good old BORING power point presentations and lectures.

    I applaud the OP's question and I totally support his question and request. Is there anyone out there that can step up to his call and support the troops??? If I was a programmer, I would step in and in two years (college) I will.

    Keep up the search Biscuits!!!
  10. icedmocha macrumors regular

    Sep 15, 2008
  11. martychang macrumors regular

    Sep 3, 2007
    I'm having trouble finding ANY useful apps for getting serious tasks done, military or otherwise. Seems like people just make games, flashlights, and hundreds of to-do lists and incomplete file managers for the iPhone/iPod Touch.

    Shameful waste of the best(if a bit closed)dev tools for a mobile platform. :(
  12. needthephone macrumors 6502a

    Apr 4, 2006
    Maybe has something to do with security-perhaps??

    I'm sure there would be quite a storm if The Apache Helicopter Service and Repair Manual turned up for sale for anybody to download on the appstore...

    If the US military was resorting to using iphones in the field to help them then god help us-yes I love the iphone but you can't plan a military campaign on google maps- maybe when turn by turn comes. Turn Left at Kabul and the enemy stronghold is 34m on your left.

    I did read that oasis's Its good to be free was popular with Challenger 2 tank crew though and they played it on their ipods in combat.
  13. synth3tik macrumors 68040


    Oct 11, 2006
    Minneapolis, MN
    With all the technological systems both in command centers and in the field with the soldiers has got to be far far beyond what the iPhone can do. I have not been a part of the military myself, but when there was wide spread radio communication in WW1. Also a friend of mine was using cellular phone technology when he was in the military in 1983.

    The military is a huge driving force behind the advancement of technology. I mean, no private company has trillions of dollars to spend on R&D to create something that seems an act of science fiction.
  14. Sehnsucht macrumors 65816

    Sep 21, 2008
    I'm totally joining up when they do. :D

    That's what I was thinking, why not just someone with military experience, i.e., understands exactly what would be useful in that field, and also happens to be a decent iPhoneOS programmer? Plus I doubt it would be illegal if the apps were free. :cool:
  15. BiscuitsJaM thread starter macrumors newbie

    Nov 28, 2008
    icedmocha: Cool article. I like how they point out that the iPhone is a miniature computer and capable of all kinds of advanced programming. Eventually... It's too bad that the military is always so slow to move. By the time they fully adopt something like the iPhone, the technology will be several generations further along.

    I'm hoping it's just a matter of time. Most good productivity apps will take a whole lot of work, and it may be hard for devs to justify that effort for only a few $ per copy.

    Almost all military manuals are legal to publicly distribute. Many can be found here:

    Or, soldiers can go to the army's secure website and download them there. All I want is a good .pdf reader that'll let me search the text. How hard is that? I'm sure lots of non-military folks have technical manuals that they want to store on their iPhones/iPods too...

    Why not use an iPhone in the field? The issued GPS is complete crap - heavy, bulky, slow-to-update, mapless, and unreliable. We're mostly using civilian GPS devices anyway, along with our paper maps, transparent overlays, and wet-erase markers.

    Sure, Google Maps doesn't work, but some other software might. I'm thinking a simple adaptation of backpackers' software perhaps? Or Google Maps could be made to work if Google cared to make it happen...

    What technology in the field? Sure, we have radios, thermal vision, and lasers on our rifles, but we ain't carrying any computers around with us.

    When we're on our vehicles, we usually have at least one with Blue Force Tracker installed. Any time we dismount, we got nothing.

    A civilian (ex-military or never-military) could legally charge money for iPhone/iPod apps, and current soldiers would be willing to pay for it. I don't know how much you'd get, but it would be something.
  16. SFC Archer macrumors 68000

    SFC Archer

    Nov 9, 2007
    Troy, MT
    It has nothing to do with security. The iPhone cannot transfer data from one computer to another and government computers because it does not give us that capability yet. You can not install iTunes on a government computer...it is blocked. Manuals and training guides that we are talking about have been declassified and that is the only type of material we are referring to. A simpleton would know you can't put military classifed material on any gadget.

    No one is stating using the iPhone to plan a military campaign...good lord, where do you all come from...we are talking about creating apps that can assist in training our soldiers using the latest technology such as a military map app, field manuals and training manuals that allow us to show our soldiers how to do their jobs. If you haven't served then you have no clue what-so-ever on what we do and don't have available as soldiers and lower level leaders. Power point slides is the grand answer to everything in the military right now and a soldiers concentration only goes so far on a blasted power point.

    When you volunteer and do some service and understand then your comments will make sense and have merit but right now...you have no clue.

    Yes...the technology advance, development are there but not at the soldier, Jr. Leader level. If its classified or controlled, you can't just take it out on a whim and use it. By having some apps on an iPhone it gives Jr. Leaders and soldiers an ALTERNATIVE tool to use and assist in training. The Army also developed all of that GPS technology that you use today but there is not a GPS unit available or made for every single soldier and are only used for training when the unit goes to the field. The OP is not talking about replacing military equipment with an iPhone...lmao...he is talking about using something that is capable of helping him in his environment. Again, as stated above...do some service and then you will know what we are talking about.

    I have just completed serving 25 years in the service and am a combat veteran...I can relate with the OP and understand the point he is trying to make. For those with no service and trying to say what the military has and how we have all of this great stuff...wake up call...it ain't there or if it is, it is controlled as a sensitive item and is under lock and key until they go on field duty or similiar. Laptops are filtered to the point that most major Google searches fail. You can't install 3rd party software and it goes on and on.
    The Army could create podcasts and/or training videos very easy that would be usable on any platform to take advantage of technology and save tax payer money but they don't.

    All we are asking is for some simple apps to increase soldier proficiency...we don't need any more negativity then we already get from protestors. It is hard to be a soldier and deployed but our soldiers do it with pride and honor and if we can use something to make it better then so be it. If you don't know then don't knock it until you have done your part. Help the soldiers and the leaders don't criticize our abilities to improvise, adapt and overcome to increase our odds of coming home. Think of the no Armor vehicles in Irag...the soldiers improvised and overcame the lack of Armor on Humvee's until DoD fixed the problem. We did the same thing in Desert Storm. Lining your vehicles with sandbags and adding steel plates inside door was our answer to protecting ourselves. Using the iPhone to better ourselves is no different, if we can adapt with Dev Programming help then we are doing what we can to better ourselves. If we think it is impossible because of your perceptions then we might as well give up the ghost.

    Biscuits is right...the Army is a non-profit organization and CANNOT sell or create any apps for sale, it is totally illegal. But soldiers can buy from the App Store if they have iPhones and want to use that as a tool for soldiering.

    Support the Troops!

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