Apple has added new language to its App Store review guidelines related to cryptocurrency. Under the Hardware Compatibility section, Apple now states that “apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining.”
In addition, an entire section on cryptocurrencies states the following (bold added by us for emphasis):
Apps may facilitate virtual currency storage, provided they are offered by developers enrolled as an organization. “In addition, apps may not mine directly for cryptocurrencies, unless the mining is performed in the cloud or otherwise off-device. Apps may “facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered by the exchange itself,” although apps facilitating Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”) must originate from “established banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants (“FCM”), or other approved financial institutions.” And finally, cryptocurrency-related apps “may not offer currency for completing tasks, such as downloading other apps, encouraging other users to download, posting to social networks.
The obvious implication here is Apple doesn’t want mining performed on the device itself as mining in the cloud is OK. The company is obviously concerned about battery life and device performance.
There has been tremendous growth in mining because users have interest in doing so. This restriction, being put in place after devices were bought, is unfair to consumers who were not aware this change would happen.
The decision is arbitrary and doesn’t seem to serve a purpose.
In order to get around this restriction, users will be forced to jailbreak their devices.
For an alternative perspective, we reached out to Ivan Likov the Founder and Lead Developer at Phoneum. His company has developed a specialized algorithm that mines for cryptocurrency on a mobile device but they do it efficiently. In fact, in an interview, Ivan said there is only 14% drain over 24 hours on newer devices. The algorithm monitors battery and device temperature and stops mining if needed.
He also mentioned it is more efficient to mine Phoneum than bitcoin. In fact, Phoneum was developed exclusively for mobile devices – allowing the power of mining, blockchain and cryptocurrencies to come to the smartphone.
In our discussion, he pointed out that there are many applications which can drain far more battery and resources than his particular application.
Apple takes the experience of its users very seriously – enough to secretly slow down the processor on their older phones so the battery life would increase. When they were caught doing so they were faced with 59 class-action suits and decided to lower the cost of battery replacements for a year and introduced new battery settings in iOS that would allow users to prevent speed throttling.
Although this is a different situation, the idea is the same. Apple changed the rules, after the fact. Moreover, they clearly feel there are no ethical issues with crypto mining as they allow it to take place in the cloud… They have just decided that on their end-user devices, it will no longer be allowed.
This is the week where Net Neutrality was repealed and the head of the FCC is facing death threats because consumers think it may one day be possible for an ISP to slow or stop the transmission of certain websites. Apple just cut off over a billion devices from taking advantage of one of the most popular tech trends of the last decade – will there be equivalent concern? Should there be? What do you think?