The U.S. isn’t the only military with designs on invading the smartphone world. China’s armed forces are starting to fill the app gap with a new iPhone program from the People’s Liberation Army.
China’s Ministry of Defense announced Monday that it was releasing an official app for iPhones and iPads to let users keep up on People’s Liberation Army (PLA) goings-on. It’s a newsreader app that lets users view press releases, pictures and video from official military outlets like the PLA Daily newspaper and China’s Ministry of Defense.
Peng Guangqian, a retired PLA general and a strategist at China’s Academy of Military Science, told the state-run newspaper China Daily that cooperation with a cool company like Apple will help the military be more hip and transparent.
The PLA didn’t exactly cooperate with Apple on its news app, at least not initially. When the mobile military mouthpiece software was first rolled out, it was only available on jailbroken iPhones. Now, though, it’s available for free in iTunes app store.
An app that soaks up official news feeds and spits them out on iPhones probably isn’t what Pentagon officials had in mind when they pestered China’s military for greater transparency. Not that a lot of American military types are likely to install the PLA app anyway. China has been suspected of a number of hacking incidents, from a break-in on an unclassified Pentagon network to a recent attack against mega contractor Lockheed Martin. Given the history, installing PLA software on your mobile device would likely be a big security faux pas.
Putting the PLA app on iOS, Apple’s mobile operating system, make sense given the popularity of Apple mobile devices in China, now the world’s second largest market for iPhone apps. There’s no word yet on a companion app for the rival Android mobile operating system. (Although the PLA may not want to go there, given China’s ongoing feud with Android’s developer, Google.)
But don’t worry, America. The Defense Department may not have completely embraced smartphones yet, but we’re still number one in mobile technology compared to China. The Army and Navy have had their own apps with news and recruiting info for a while now. Contractors are also looking to sell apps for use on the battlefield, offering up programs like the SoldierEyes Common Operating Picture and the Raytheon Advanced Tactical Systems that let troops track the position of their buddies in the field. For it’s part, the Army’s also toying with its own app store and Android-based smartphone for soldier.
Please work out any matters you have with warnings or bans with the Moderator responsible...only after this has not worked may you e-mail an Administrator for questions about bans or warnings...