Over the past year, cryptocurrency has become one of the hottest topics in technology – and now Apple has responded, making its position on the trend clear.
Five rules have been added to the App Store Review Guidelines, which govern the entire Apple app ecosystem – iOS, macOS, watchOS, and tvOS alike. They will significantly curtail, and in some cases outright eliminate, existing cryptocurrency apps – but what do they actually say?
The most impactful of these additions is a complete ban on cryptocurrency mining apps, except for those which use non-device resources like the cloud for mining.
Apps also won’t be allowed to offer users cryptocurrency as a reward for tasks like encouraging other users to download the app, or installing other apps. This specifically includes posting to social networks.
Wallet apps for virtual currency storage will be allowed, but only from developers enrolled as an organization.
Apps can allow users to transact and trade cryptocurrency on an approved exchanged, but only if the app is the exchange’s own.
Similarly, apps involved in Initial Coin Offerings (ICOs), bitcoin futures trading, or other cryptocurrency securities trading must come from established banks, securities firms or other approved financial institutions – and must comply with all applicable laws.
This isn’t the first time Apple has made moves against cryptocurrency apps – Calendar 2, an app which offered premium features to users who allowed it to mine cryptocurrency on their devices – was removed from the Mac App Store due to a pre-existing App Store guideline on apps rapidly draining battery, generating excessive heat, or putting unnecessary strain on device resources. But this is its first dedicated ruling on the subject, and represents a clear direction from Apple.
However, given that the graphical processing power of most Apple devices mean they’re not an efficient way of mining cryptocurrencies, the biggest effect will probably be on cyber-criminals and their victims. Apps can, knowingly or otherwise, contain secret miners to effectively steal the resources from other people’s devices – these will, of course, now be outlawed.