Apple’s iPhone and iPod touch are becoming the electronic handheld devices of choice for U.S. military overseas, according to a new report. Newsweek reports that the iPod touch, and to a lesser extent the iPhone, are gaining popularity thanks to their relatively low cost compared to custom-designed mil-spec devices, their ruggedness when sheathed in protective cases, and their versatility. Since both devices can run a myriad of different apps, many government agencies are funding development of new software. The Pentagon is funding the technology behind an app that would allow a soldier to take a picture of a street sign and quickly receive intelligence on the local area, while the U.S. Marine Corps is funding an application that would allow soldiers to upload photos of detained suspects to a centralized, biometric database, which could then be used to match faces and make it easier to track suspects once they’ve been released. Other software includes an app that would display aerial video from drones, a bomb-disposal robot remote control app, the ballistics calculator BulletFlight, currently in use by snipers in Iraq and Afghanistan, and Vcommunicator, a spoken and written translator. An iPod “may be all that [soldiers] need,” says Lt. Col. Jim Ross, director of the Army’s intelligence, electronic warfare and sensors operations in Fort Monmouth, New Jersey. The Pentagon has not disclosed how many Apple devices are currently deployed.