Apple bans cryptocurrency mining on the iPhone and iPad

Posted:
in General Discussion edited June 11
New developer guidelines released during WWDC set new rules for cryptocurrency apps distributed through both the iOS and Mac App Stores.

Coinbase iOS app


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:
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.
As of late May, per the Internet Archive's Wayback Machine, the only mentions of cryptocurrencies in the guidelines were that apps were allowed to facilitate such transactions "provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions," while the ICO language was nearly identical as well.

Apple and crypto

Cryptocurrency has interfaced with the App Store in various ways for most of the histories of both. AppleInsider talked about cryptocurrency and the Coinbase app in January.





In 2013 and 2014, Apple delisted Coinbase and other crypto-related apps from the App Store, citing an unnamed "unresolved issue"; that led to the original set of developer guidelines, and the apps later returned. For a time in 2017, Coinbase was the #1 app available in the App Store.

An app called Calendar 2 was found to be using customer computers to mine the cryptocurrency Monero, in exchange for the user receiving free access to premium features. But a bug caused the miner to run indefinitely. The app was pulled but reinstated days later.

Meanwhile, also earlier in 2018, a scammer stole more than $75,000 in Bitcoin from Apple cofounder Steve Wozniak.

Comments

  • Reply 1 of 19
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,109member
    Hum. I don't think I fully understand this, but it seems like Apple is prohibiting certain uses of your CPU in a fundamental way. Very interesting.
  • Reply 2 of 19
    Right, I think you don’t fully understand this. Apple only curates what can be sold through the App Store. You can use you CPU to mine cryptocurrency in a web browser. Apple doesn’t prohibit your CPU usage fundamentally.
    StrangeDaysracerhomie3anton zuykovSpamSandwichtdknoxpscooter63bshankwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 3 of 19
    This feels to me like one of the strongest reasons for why jailbreaking should be possible. If you own the CPU, and you want to install your own unsupported version of the core software, with some personal technical prowess, you should be able to do that. Then you can run your cryptocurrency mining software, but you also can't come back and sue Apple for battery issues, overheating, slow performance, or anything else. Otherwise, it makes sense for Apple to ban some forms of computation within their ecosystem. Cryptocurrency mining is by definition a bottomless pit of running all CPU cores at 100%, for as long as possible. Unless someone steps in to limit it, it does not align with the goals that ordinary users have of, cool running, long lasting, responsive performance from their phone. Even the thermal realities of a phone means running it hot for prolonged periods of time would likely shorten the life of the hardware. And all of that comes back on Apple in the form of class action lawsuits.
    racerhomie3
  • Reply 4 of 19
    sflocalsflocal Posts: 4,195member
    Right, I think you don’t fully understand this. Apple only curates what can be sold through the App Store. You can use you CPU to mine cryptocurrency in a web browser. Apple doesn’t prohibit your CPU usage fundamentally.
    I don't see the complexity.  It's pretty straightforward to me.  It's already been shown that App developers will try to do sketchy things like installing crypto-mining in exchange for "free" software.  This is a rabbit-hole that I'm sure Apple doesn't want to go down into.  I can easily see App developers abusing this and next thing you know, every "free" app will contain mining software, sucking battery life like it was going out of style, and slowing down one's iPhone in the process.  Do you think the app developer will get blamed for that?  No.  Apple will get all the criticism.

    Apple is doing the right thing.  You may consider it questionable for Apple to decide how its CPU should be used but I see it as apple being proactive and stopping potential abuse.
    racerhomie3auxiotallest skilmwhitetmayRayz2016tdknoxpscooter63watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 5 of 19
    Apple bans inefficient mining. I wonder who would use that hardware for mining. Even ASICs these days that represent mining power become inefficient and need frequent upgrades. Only Chinese pools can keep up. Well Apple fears turn into obsessions, I guess. GPU is not suffiecient hardware thgat would eat up all cryptocurrency it has found with power consumptions. Know the rules. Specialized power processing for minining is elsewhere.
    edited June 11
  • Reply 6 of 19
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,872member
    sflocal said:

    I can easily see App developers abusing this and next thing you know, every "free" app will contain mining software, sucking battery life like it was going out of style, and slowing down one's iPhone in the process.  Do you think the app developer will get blamed for that?  No.  Apple will get all the criticism.
    This.  Hiding crypto miners in free apps is the new trend in scams.  The average person has no clue and their immediate reaction when their iPhone battery life/performance decreases dramatically will be to blame Apple.
    racerhomie3anton zuykovtmaykirkgraypscooter63caladanianwatto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 7 of 19
    Thank You Apple.
    watto_cobrajony0
  • Reply 8 of 19
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,109member
    auxio said:
    sflocal said:

    I can easily see App developers abusing this and next thing you know, every "free" app will contain mining software, sucking battery life like it was going out of style, and slowing down one's iPhone in the process.  Do you think the app developer will get blamed for that?  No.  Apple will get all the criticism.
    This.  Hiding crypto miners in free apps is the new trend in scams.  The average person has no clue and their immediate reaction when their iPhone battery life/performance decreases dramatically will be to blame Apple.
    I'm catching on. AI community is a source of much information. Always helpful to...wait for it...mine it.
    pscooter63watto_cobra
  • Reply 9 of 19
    eightzeroeightzero Posts: 2,109member
    sflocal said:
    Right, I think you don’t fully understand this. Apple only curates what can be sold through the App Store. You can use you CPU to mine cryptocurrency in a web browser. Apple doesn’t prohibit your CPU usage fundamentally.
    I don't see the complexity.  It's pretty straightforward to me.  It's already been shown that App developers will try to do sketchy things like installing crypto-mining in exchange for "free" software.  This is a rabbit-hole that I'm sure Apple doesn't want to go down into.  I can easily see App developers abusing this and next thing you know, every "free" app will contain mining software, sucking battery life like it was going out of style, and slowing down one's iPhone in the process.  Do you think the app developer will get blamed for that?  No.  Apple will get all the criticism.

    Apple is doing the right thing.  You may consider it questionable for Apple to decide how its CPU should be used but I see it as apple being proactive and stopping potential abuse.
    So I further understand, Apple's policy prohibits the deployment of an app that does nothing but turn an iOS device into a mining device, right? No making a shared computer array out of iDevices? 
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 10 of 19
    eightzero said:
    Hum. I don't think I fully understand this, but it seems like Apple is prohibiting certain uses of your CPU in a fundamental way. Very interesting.
    That is because Apple probably saw the rise of apps doing un-disclosed activities in the apps, unbeknownst to users, namely - mining coins.

    watto_cobra
  • Reply 11 of 19
    rogifan_newrogifan_new Posts: 3,169member
    greg uvan said:
    This feels to me like one of the strongest reasons for why jailbreaking should be possible. If you own the CPU, and you want to install your own unsupported version of the core software, with some personal technical prowess, you should be able to do that. Then you can run your cryptocurrency mining software, but you also can't come back and sue Apple for battery issues, overheating, slow performance, or anything else. Otherwise, it makes sense for Apple to ban some forms of computation within their ecosystem. Cryptocurrency mining is by definition a bottomless pit of running all CPU cores at 100%, for as long as possible. Unless someone steps in to limit it, it does not align with the goals that ordinary users have of, cool running, long lasting, responsive performance from their phone. Even the thermal realities of a phone means running it hot for prolonged periods of time would likely shorten the life of the hardware. And all of that comes back on Apple in the form of class action lawsuits.
    Do you own the CPU? When you buy an iOS device aren’t you just buying a license to use the software?
    mwhite
  • Reply 12 of 19
    nunzynunzy Posts: 650member
    I for one thank Apple for this. I am glad that Apple will not allow me to use their devices in this manner. If I were to run these apps, I would probably get myself in all sorts of trouble. Thanks Apple!
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 13 of 19
    foggyhillfoggyhill Posts: 4,733member
    This is more to prevent Mining used a justification for getting "free software".

    Most people will not understand the implications of this but will still blame Apple for their crap battery life (the longevity of the battery will also be lessened), performance
    tmaykirkgraymacxpresswatto_cobraanton zuykov
  • Reply 14 of 19
    volcanvolcan Posts: 1,674member
    sflocal said:
     I can easily see App developers abusing this and next thing you know, every "free" app will contain mining software, sucking battery life like it was going out of style, and slowing down one's iPhone in the process.  
    It seems pretty unlikely and quite stupid that an end user would intentionally use an iPhone to mine bitcoins, but I wouldn't be at all surprised that some unscrupulous developers might try to harness the collective power of millions of iPhones to do so unbeknownst to the users. Apple has never approved apps that secretly do things behind the scenes other than what is advertised. Now they are saying you can't even mine bitcoins in the foreground or background or at all.
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 15 of 19
    auxioauxio Posts: 1,872member
    volcan said:
    Apple has never approved apps that secretly do things behind the scenes other than what is advertised. Now they are saying you can't even mine bitcoins in the foreground or background or at all.
    I think the problem is trying to distinguish the two cases (intentional vs secretly).  And, as you said, intentionally mining for bitcoins using a phone seems like a highly unlikely use case for most people.
    SpamSandwichwatto_cobra
  • Reply 16 of 19
    uroshnoruroshnor Posts: 70member
    eightzero said:
    Hum. I don't think I fully understand this, but it seems like Apple is prohibiting certain uses of your CPU in a fundamental way. Very interesting.
    Nope. 

    You can can use an ad-hoc or an enterprise App to mine to your hearts content, without jailbreaking. 

    Apple is just saying you can’t distribute it via the App Store. There’s many plausible reasons eg mining is a continual high intensity activity that would suck resources from other apps, drain the battery faster, cause overheating issues etc if running such an App often increased the chance you’d need a battery replacement - odds on, most people would blame Apple.

    Given their goal in part is to make the App Store somewhere people can trust to get Apps, that won’t screw with their phones, this decision seems broadly consistent with that. You might be ok with making a trade off in battery life , overheating and usability, but many users are users are not. In addition, mining to pay for using the App is something that is extremely hard for most people to fully weigh the trade offs for.

    the last thing is that mining in the CPU is horribly inefficient from a cost perspective, the only way you can possibly make money from it is to get the electricity to do it for free, and from many many CPUs. Ie mining make no economic sense to do it for yourself, but it makes a lot of sense to get many other people to do it for you for free of near free.

    Apple made the right call here
    watto_cobra
  • Reply 17 of 19
    dysamoriadysamoria Posts: 1,770member
    This all looks good to me (especially since I view crypto-currency as a pathological technology).

    What doesn't look good is the article's usage of quotations. The article author needs to get in there and work on that.
    edited June 11
  • Reply 18 of 19
    entropysentropys Posts: 1,206member
    nunzy said:
    I for one thank Apple for this. I am glad that Apple will not allow me to use their devices in this manner. If I were to run these apps, I would probably get myself in all sorts of trouble. Thanks Apple!
    The point is unscrupulous developers have hidden code in their apps so *they* use your phone to mine bitcoins. Over many phones it would add up. Meanwhile, you user experienced is degraded.
    nunzywatto_cobra
  • Reply 19 of 19
    q2hq2h Posts: 18member
    I read this and think....well yeah. My iPhone already gets scary hot with some apps. Crypto mining on my X would probably make my phone blow up in my pocket.

    disclaimer: I love crypto, but I can see why exploding, or even just less reliable iPhones is something Apple would like to avoid.
    edited June 12
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