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President Obama wants to switch to an Android phone

Fri, 03/21/2014 - 11:09pm
AllVoices

When Barack Obama was elected president in 2008, he insisted on keeping his BlackBerry even though White House policy did not allow the commander-in-chief to use a smartphone. "They’re going to pry it out of my hands," he said at the time. But now the president is trying to pry his Blackberry out of his own hands. The White House is reportedly testing out phones so President Obama can switch to an Android phone.

US presidents cannot have a typical smartphone, because of the risk of being hacked. BlackBerry worked with White House security and a special military communications unit to devise a super-secure BlackBerry when Obama took office in 2009. Now those same super-secret units are at it again, trying to modify Samsung and LG phones so they can meet the security threshold for a sitting US president to use them.

This is because President Obama may switch to Android, according to the Wall Street Journal. The tests on these prospective "presidential Android phones" will take months, so Obama will not get his Android anytime soon.

"We can confirm that the White House Communications Agency, consistent with the rest of the Department of Defense, is piloting and using a variety of mobile devices," a US Defense Department representative told the Wall Street Journal.

The security tests are so top-secret that LG didn"t even know its phones were being tested. "An LG spokesman said the company wasn"t aware of such testing," author Will Connors wrote in the Journal.

President Obama already uses an iPad, and it is a normal iPad without any special security modifications (Steve Jobs gave it to him!). He is only allowed to read articles on it, he cannot send emails on the iPad for security reasons. President Obama is the first US president to use email while in office, but only 10 people have his email address.

It"s a little surprising that President Obama would choose Android over an iPhone. Both of his daughters use iPhones. I"m just speculating here, but the reason may be that Android phones are "open source" and more easily modified. Apple may be unwilling to change the operating system of a phone, even for the President of the United States.

Obama might still use his BlackBerry, but the move is seen as a symbolic blow to the company. Personal use of BlackBerry phones has plummeted since Obama took office, but making secure phones for top government officials has become BlackBerry"s new niche. If the president moves to Android, even that small niche business is threatened.

Any Android phone that the president can use is still months away from being properly modified for executive use. But when it is, it will give the term Obama phone a whole different meaning.

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