iPhones and iPods: Tools of Learning and Warfare?

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The Microsoft vs. Apple Ad Game

The ubiquitous little iPod and the ever-popular iPhone are much more than just music players and phones with games on them.  They’ve expanded into tools of higher learning and of warfare.  Neither of these are game apps, they’re real-life uses for Apple’s little electronic boxes.

University of Missouri Requires Students Buy iPhone or iPod

ipod-schoolThat’s the headline at eWeek.com describing the phone and music player as tools of higher learning.  Apparently, the University of Missouri plans to require Freshmen to use the Apple devices as delivery points for both on-time information (wirelessly) the students will need to know as well as course material.

They’ll also be required to access the iTunes University in the iTunes Store for some courses.  According to the university, students need access to review lectures “while on the go or working out.”  That’s a direct quote, you can’t make this stuff up.

On a related strain, Amazon has partnered with several universities to give trial runs to the new Amazon large-screen Kindle for textbook use on campus.  As of this summer, about 60% of U.S.  higher education textbooks will be available on the Kindle.

The iPhone and iPod Go to War

Meanwhile, the two devices from Apple are being used in Afghanistan and Iraq as well.  According to The Independent, the U.S. military thinks that these tools are idea for the age of “network-centric warfare.”  Plus, unlike the $400 screws and $800 toilet lids the Pentagon normally buys, the iPod and iPhone are extremely affordable for the Department of Defense to purchase in bulk.

Seriously, though, they are being used in a wide variety of ways by troops.  The idea was first noticed when the Marine Corps noticed that many of their sniper teams were using the little devices to do on-the-fly ballistics calculations.

Now, both the Army and the Marines are using the devices for everything from inter-unit communication to language translation.  They’re even capturing images of suspects or detainees for analysis by intelligence.  They’re also easy to train soldiers to use, since most already own a personal one.  The DoD is even funding applications development for the Apple platforms.

No word yet on whether military personnel who use the devices will get custom camouflage protective covers for them.


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