(FILES) This December 26, 2011 file photo shows the Pentagon building in Washington, DC. (STAFF/AFP/GETTY IMAGES)

The Defense Department said Friday that it has approved Apple devices for use on its networks, meaning that it can issue its employees iPhones and iPads at the office.

With the announcement, Apple joins Samsung and BlackBerry on a short list of commercial smartphone makers that the Pentagon says are secure enough for its workers to use. Apple iPhones and iPads running iOS 6 meet that standard, the Defense Department said in a release.

Apple did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the announcement. Earlier this month, the Pentagon gave its nod to new phones from Samsung that run a business-focused version of Google’s Android mobile operating system and also approved BlackBerry’s latest phones.

In recent years, several parts of the federal government, including Capitol Hill offices, the State Department, the National Security Agency and the Department of Homeland Security have allowed their employees to use Apple and Android devices for work. Before Friday’s official approval, the Defense Department was already allowing some of its employees to use iPhones and iPads in a pilot program to evaluate the system’s security.

The Pentagon’s decision to give workers more options when choosing a workplace smartphone reflects a larger trend in the business market, as more companies let employees use the same devices at home and in the office. That change has been bad news for BlackBerry — formerly Research in Motion — which has kept its hold on the business and government smartphone market despite losses in the general consumer market.

Even there, however, BlackBerry’s grip has been slipping. Last year, IDC reported that Apple was on pace to ship more devices for businesses use than the Canadian smartphone maker.

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Department of Defense close to decision on Apple, Samsung devices

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