Citing a source close to the project, CNN says that developers in a government program are working on smartphones that run a customized version of the OS with security improvements. Though the first batch of test devices is authorized only for storing confidential documents, phones and tablets capable of transmitting the documents over wireless networks could arrive in the next few months.
Michael McCarthy, a director for the Army's Brigade Modernization Command, told CNN that the Army has been testing touch-screen smartphones at U.S. bases over the last two years (a fact that CBS News also reported in December 2010). Though the Army has issued 40 of the modified smartphones so far, it will ship an additional 50 handsets and 75 tablets to service members by next month.
Instead of employing devices with unique hardware complement, CNN reports that the program uses commercially available phones while making security modifications to Android's kernel. In addition to showing the data that each application on the phone will utilize, the enhanced devices also will let the user control the specific data that can be sent over the network.
If the program proceeds successfully, a government adoption of Android technology would pose a threat to Research in Motion, which has long supplied its BlackBerry devices to federal officials, including President Obama.