Apple is cracking down on cryptocurrency on its platform, but don’t worry too much. Your favorite crypto wallet app is probably still in the clear after an update to Apple’s developer guidelines for iOS and macOS. The new rules are aimed mainly at limiting the shadier side of cryptocurrency like unregulated ICOs and mining coins on your Apple hardware. The rules apply to both computers and phones, but are more restrictive on phones because of Apple’s walled garden mobile ecosystem.
The new crypt rules appeared in Apple’s developer guidelines during WWDC, which is also when the company dropped the hammer any game streaming apps that include a browsable store (that’s the Steam link fiasco). The crypto guidelines get their own section in the updated document under “3.1.5 (b) Cryptocurrencies.” The gist is that you won’t be mining any cryptocurrency on your phone, but you can store it there.
Apple says that wallet apps for storing your Bitcoins and other virtual money are fine. However, the developer offering these apps must be enrolled in the Apple developer program as an organization rather than an individual. You can also access online crypto exchanges in apps. Initial coin offerings (ICOs) are somewhat more locked down. Apps offering to facilitate ICOs can only do so with the backing of established banks, securities firms, or other financial institutions.
Generating crypto on your Apple device is effectively forbidden under the new rules. Developers cannot reward users with cryptocurrency for completing tasks in apps, and more significantly, you can’t use an app to mine coins on your machine. In the case of phones, this probably makes sense. You’re never going to make very much money mining cryptocurrency on your phone’s low-power hardware. So, the only reason a developer would include such functionality is to try and trick users into mining coins for them. Mining also puts stress on the phone hardware that can greatly shorten its already short lifespan. Apple is already taking heat for battery degradation in its phones without crypto mining.
Apple locks down mobile devices, so the only way to get unapproved apps on them is to find an exploit and “jailbreak” the phone. That’s increasingly difficult and risky, though. On the macOS side, you can get apps from outside the Mac App Store. Apple won’t distribute any crypto mining apps, but you can still download one separately if you so choose. The same goes for the other categories of forbidden apps.
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