Russia’s Defence Ministry has announced a new tablet based on Google’s Android OS but stripped of all the software it believes compromises security by sending data back to the US giant’s servers.
Shown off at the IFA consumer electronics show during a visit by Deputy Prime Minister Dmitry Rogozin to Berlin, the tablet was reportedly designed over a number of years as a military research project backed by private funding.
The need is simple: Russia’s government wants a tablet that can run some mainstream applications but without opening it up to unnecessary security risks, or at least that it the contention.
The exact specification has not been explained, nor the extent to which it leans on Google’s Android itself. Almost certainly based on ARM, the tablet has been ruggedized and will employ sufficient encryption for military and Government use.
"There is nothing like this operating system on the market. It is hack-proof. There are people who are clamouring for this," AFP quoted project head Dmitry Mikhailov as saying.
"They are not afraid of Google or the US government stealing things per se. They are afraid of leaks in general," he explained.
The tablet will be built in Russia and used by a range of officials, including those of key state institutions such as oil company, Gazprom. A consumer version is apparently on the cards for 15,000 roubles (£370) per each while a military version will be shock and water proofed.
Russian sources have cast doubt on the project’s commercial prospects without strong orders from the Russian Government. That alone suggests that the tablet will be bought exclusively by this market.
The tablet will include global positioning technology but using the Russian GLONASS system rather than the longer-established US GPS equivalent.
Central planning running amock? This is not the first attempt by the country to rid itself of commercial software having mandated in 2010 that the entire Government should moves to Linux as raoidly as possible.
Although Android is open source (with some contentious proprietary elements) the size of the search giant puts it in the same category as far as Russian officials are concerned.