Military personnel serving overseas can record a bedtime story and send it to their children for free thanks to an iPhone app called A Story Before Bed. The program offers 100,000 free recordings to help troops connect with loved ones back home. Any member of the U.S. armed forces who is deploying or already deployed can sign up on the A Story Before Bed website to receive a free storybook recording. Soldiers record a story using a webcam on a Mac or PC and send it to their children using the company's iPhone, iPod Touch or iPad app or a Web browser.
The Apps4Africa competition hosted by the U.S. State Department challenged innovators in Africa to find 21st century solutions to everyday issues, and a panel of judges recently selected the winning apps. Apps4Africa launched in July 2010 and brought together local entrepreneurs from Kenya, Rwanda, Uganda and Tanzania. More than 20 entries were submitted addressing issues ranging from government corruption to farming practices. The competition builds on Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton's Civil Society 2.0 initiative that encourages the use of digital technology to connect communities and solve shared problems.
A new iPhone app attracting close to 80,000 new users each day taps into a huge collection of live police, firefighter, aircraft, railroad, marine, emergency and ham radios. Developed by Smartest Apple, the 5-0 Radio app allows users to find feeds in their area and listen while they run other apps or browse the Web. The app has an integrated map that finds the user's location and the feeds associated with that area. It organizes feeds by county, city, country and popularity, among others. The delay between the real radio feed and the app is between 1-3 seconds.
No more guessing games when it comes to military pay. The MilPay app for the iPhone and iPad breaks down basic pay, housing allowances and special pay using official data from the Defense Department. Plus, MilPay will display how much the user gets paid hourly depending on the amount of hours per week they worked. Developed by MilitaryLounge.com, the app uses information from the 2010 Military Pay and Basic Allowance for Housing (BAH) charts and tables. In addition to calculating how much the user makes, it estimates pay for other military positions and shows how income changes with annual raises and rank.
New technology using augmented reality blends digital data with the real world-blurring the line between computer-generated images and what we actually see. And the latest example of this concept is the Plane Finder AR app, which can instantly find the flight number, speed, altitude and more of an aircraft overhead. Pinkfroot Limited created Plane Finder AR for the iPhone 3GS and iPhone 4, and the app utilizes the augmented reality capabilities of the smart phone to track flights overhead.
Outdoor enthusiasts now have access to the Defense Department's 500-page publication titled "Survival, Evasion and Recovery" with the click of a button. The iPhone app Survival Pocket Reference teaches users the survival skills implemented in the wild by the U.S. armed forces. Field manuals used by the U.S. Army, Marine Corps, Navy and Air Force are arguably the most authoritative guides on survival. The Survival Pocket Reference app combines real tips used by the military for basic survival, first aid and recovery.
American Veterans (AMVETS) announced a new mobile app for the iPhone, iPod Touch and Blackberry that allows veterans to locate AMVETS posts, find their local service officer, connect with headquarters and research veterans' issues. The veterans' organization and FraternalSoft Incorporated teamed up to create AMVETS Mobile, which AMVETS National Commander Duane J. Miskulin calls the "latest weapon in our communications arsenal." The demographic of veterans is changing, and the need for instant information is key, explains Jim King, AMVETS executive director. The app provides veterans with the ability to locate the nearest AMVETS posts or thrift stores using geo-location services.
A team at the Defense Centers of Excellence (DCoE) National Center for Telehealth and Technology developed an iPhone app called iBreathe, which will be available for free in the iTunes app store after January 2011. It aims to help military personnel, veterans and their family members deal with stressful situations by practicing deep "belly" breathing. DCoE researchers say high-stress situations often result in a "fight or flight" mentality, and the lingering stress can take a physical and mental toll.
Apps Tap into Cloud Computing
Navy SEAL Fitness
A new iPhone app has been designed to help troops stay up to speed on the Patriot anti-missile system, but users won't find this program in the iTunes App Store-it's by invitation only. Made strictly for the military and containing detailed information on the major defense system, the Raytheon Company-developed Patriot Crew Drill app is a multiple-choice game aimed at helping troops on the front lines of Iraq and Afghanistan who, in peacetime, would be dedicated to operating the Patriot anti-missile system. Many soldiers go for months or even a year without operating the system, and the game serves as a refresher and a way to stay sharp.
Apps for the Army Competition Wraps Up
Google App Inventor
Hope for One PTSD App
U.S. Armed Forces App
Deployed forces can increase their knowledge of the language and culture in Iraq and Afghanistan with the click of a button, according to Vcom3D, the developer of the iPhone app Vcommunicator Mobile Language & Culture (LC). Select groups of soldiers have already started utilizing the app, which aims to help users communicate effectively during operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom, and it has already been used by more than 700 members of the U.S. military. The app has also been deployed with forces helping relief efforts in Sudan.
From potholes that need filling to graffiti in the neighborhood, the new GORequest app for the iPhone makes it easy for users to tap into their city and report problems fast. Developed by Government Outreach, the app allows users to select an issue, snap a picture using the phone's camera and submit the problem to the local government with the click of a button. Using the Global Positioning System (GPS) built into the iPhone, the app can sense the user's location and find the correct authority to address the issue. If the GPS accuracy is not working properly, users can also type in an address.
Soldiers may not have time to utilize an iPhone app in the field, but the creator of an application called BulletFlight claims it could improve the accuracy of military snipers in training. Developed by Knight's Armament Company and available through Apple's iTunes App Store for $11.99, the app eliminates some of the math involved in long-distance target shooting and calculates the trajectory of a bullet's flight path to ensure users hit the target. It allows shooters to input wind speed, atmospheric conditions and distance for the intended target.
Have you ever worried that a third party could intercept your cell phone calls or text messages? Early last week, an independent computer security researcher known as Moxie Marlinspike followed in the footsteps of Philip Zimmermann, the developer of an electronic encryption technology known as Pretty Good Privacy, and launched two apps that they claim make phones untappable. The free, public betas for Google's Android mobile platform are called RedPhone and TextSecure. The first app uses Zimmermann's open source Internet voice cryptography scheme called ZRTP to encrypt phone calls, and the latter allows users to send and receive encrypted text messages and scramble the messages stored in their inbox.