The US military, most specifically the Army feels that smartphones, and mobile apps more specifically are the future of the modern Army. The Army recently began an Apps for the Army competition, where developers were challenged to come up with mobile applications designed specifically for military use. The results were 17 Android apps and 16 iPhone apps ranging from health and exercise guides to basic Army training manuals.

Today the Army released a webpage that serves as an example of a future platform for military mobile app development. Within the platform, a soldier can start a forum topic expressing a need for a certain type of app. Other soldiers can then comment on that thread, sharing ideas for how to tweak or improve the hypothetical app. Developers cleared to work with the Defense Department will also be able to participate in the thread. Eventually, if the Army decides it is an app that would be useful, those same developers can bid on the contract to develop the app and bring it into reality.

High ranking officials believe that we’re at least a year away from the point where soldiers are all issued a government smartphone equipped with military apps along with their boots and rifle. But that day is an inevitability according to most opinion.

One of the biggest hurdles will be deciding on a smartphone platform. Right now Android and Apple are the two being considered. And once a platform is chosen, getting a device through the necessary red tape and clearances to be deemed secure enough to store government data is another long process.

In the long run, these apps can use geo-location apps to identify friendly units to avoid friendly fire incidents. They might be able to allow soldiers to remotely fire artillery weapons, taking soldiers off the front lines. In either case, that saves lives, which means this project can’t move forward fast enough.