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2/12/2010
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Government Plans Mobile Apps Store

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra outlines plans to offer mobile applications from an iPhone-like 'store' that will give the public access to new capabilities developed by both the government and third-party developers.

The U.S. government is developing an online portal of mobile applications that will extend new services to the smartphone-carrying public.

Federal CIO Vivek Kundra revealed plans for the mobile apps Web site in a conference call earlier this week. "We see mobile computing as central to being able to serve the American people and making sure that government services are presented in the context that the American people are most comfortable with," Kundra said. "We also want to make sure that solutions are engineered with the citizens in mind, not afterwards."

It's the latest example of the U.S. government's expanding support of mobile devices, both for federal workers and the public. In January, the White House introduced a mobile app for iPhones, and the U.S. Postal Service and NASA have released iPhone apps, too. The White House described that app, which delivers news, blogs, and steaming video, as the first step in a broader mobile platform strategy that would include other devices.

The government's mobile apps portal will be incorporated into the Apps.gov site, launched last fall as a one-stop shop for software delivered as a service. Apps.gov is managed by the General Services Administration.

Kundra didn't describe specific applications that would be offered from the government's mobile apps store, but said they might include things such as an app to track federal spending or one to view government projects in a user's community. Kundra pointed to Apple's iPhone store as a model, and he indicated that third-party developers would be able to offer apps on Uncle Sam's store. "Part of this is going to be not just limited to applications within the federal government," he said.

Kundra said development is underway on the mobile apps store, but that it could be six months before a pilot version of the store is available on Apps.gov.

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