Navy wants secure, ‘trusted’ apps for sailors

A search for “U.S. Navy” on the Google Play store turns up dozens of mobile apps, everything from training simulators to hospital corpsman qualifications to fitness guides. Which of these are official Navy releases? It’s anyone’s guess.

“When an app is published to one of the app stores, it appears under the developer’s name. If somebody supporting the Navy under a [Department of Defense] contract publishes an app for us, it will appear under their name. So there is no way for a sailor to just say: ‘Show me Navy applications,’ ” said David Driegert, assistant program manager for mobility in PMW-240, the Navy’s Sea Warrior Program.

In an effort to clear these murky waters, PMW-240 recently released the Navy App Locker, a free downloadable app that aims to consolidate all officially released Navy apps. “We wanted to provide the sailor with a single, trusted source, one place to go to see all the Navy-developed apps,” Driegert said.

However, due to the fragmented nature of apps development across the Navy, it may be some time before the program hits that mark.

By late May, about two months after the locker launched, there were still just 19 applications available on the app, out of an estimated 100 Navy apps presently in circulation. PMW-240 has had to do some heavy lifting to find and validate the many apps that have been developed across diverse offices and commands throughout the service.

The office has contacted various mobility working groups across the Navy, and leaders of the locker project have scoured the commercial app stores in search of Navy tools that have not been previously identified.

The apps locker also offers users a button through which they can submit their own apps for consideration as part of the official Navy portfolio of mobile tools. Several apps are presently under consideration.

Even with these many irons in the fire, locating Navy apps has proven a challenge. “A lot of Navy organizations have developed mobile apps that reside in the commercial stores, but that not many folks know about — and that includes my office,” Driegert said. “It takes a multi-pronged approach just to…

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