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Apple bans Cryptocurrency Mining Apps

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Cryptocurrency mining in apps has been on the rise, with developers putting functions into apps without the knowledge of companies and the users. Because of this, Apple has updated their app guidelines to make sure that developers follow their company ecosystem. This update took place the first week of June, 2018 with different Apps Store restrictions. The apps may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off a device such as cloud-based mining.

This ban is effective for iOS and MacOS platforms. The new guidelines referenced cryptocurrencies in two areas. One area (2.4.2) talks about power efficiency while another (3.1.5) had a different section on cryptocurrencies. This former section states that apps should not put unnecessary strain on device resources, rapidly drain battery or generate excessive heat. Also apps, including third party advertisements displayed are not allowed to run unrelated background processes such as crypto mining.

Before this update Apple’s rules specified that it was not acceptable for apps to enable monetizing built-in capabilities which were provided by hardware or operating systems. This update did not mention cryptocurrency mining explicitly.

It is not the first time that Apple is taking action against mining apps. Earlier this year, a popular app, Calender 2, was removed from Mac App Store. The app offered cryptocurrency mining on devices in exchange for premium features. This app mined Monero in the background even if users disabled the feature due to a bug. Apple was quick to talk about excessive heat and battery drain as the cause for implementation of this ban. The app was reinstated days later.

Section 3.1.5 has more details on the cryptocurrency guidelines that app developers are required to adhere to. These are highlighted below;

Cryptocurrency mining apps effect on your phone

A new type of cyber-attack called cryptojacking is where an attacker uses the processing power of your device to mine virtual currencies without your knowledge. The excessive use of your phone’s resources causes a slowdown of the device and affects battery life negatively.

The use of smartphones in cryptocurrency mining is not a viable process because many of these smartphones do not have a powerful GPU. Therefore, cryptocurrency mining even with legitimate apps degrades device performance.

Google banned crypto-mining extensions from its Chrome Web Store saying that most of the extensions did not abide by the rules provided before.

Even without such a ban, smartphones and tablets are not the ideal devices for cryptocurrency mining. Advertisers may also use this to surreptitiously mine for coins without the knowledge of phone users, affecting battery life and performance.

It will be interesting to see what other areas this ban will affect, and whether there will be more developments to make cryptocurrency mining for individuals without a capacity to purchase large and expensive mining equipment.

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