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Apple updates App Store guidelines to ban cryptomining apps

Tim Maytom

Apple has updated the guidelines for its iOS App Store to include a total ban on cryptocurrency mining, placing an emphasis on the battery-draining effect that such high-powered computing can have on even high-end smartphones.

Smartphones overall, even the latest models, are poorly suited to crytomining and unlikely to be used by serious crytocurrency advocates, so the move seems largely aimed at apps that may attempt to mine cryptocoins in the background, possibly without the user's knowledge or consent.

"Cryptojacking" has become an increasing problem in the digital world, as websites and apps attempt to use the computing power of visitors to generate cryptocurrency for their owners by inserting malicious code. Cryptomining places a considerable stress on computers, drawing power and slowing down other processes.

Apple's iOS developer guidelines previously stated that apps should "use power efficiently" and shouldn't "rapidly drain battery, generate excessive heat, or put unnecessary strain on device resources", as well as forbidding apps from running "unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining."

However, a new addition to section 3.1.5 (b) of the guidelines states that apps "may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off device (e.g. cloud-based mining)" as well as introducing additional controls on how apps can interact with cryptocurrencies. For example, apps can only facilitate virtual currency storage if developers are enrolled as an organisation, cryptocurrency transactions and transmissions can only be offered on approved exchanges by the exchange itself, and apps cannot offer currency in exchange for completing tasks like downloading other apps, posting to social networks, etc.

The guidelines bring Apple into line with many other tech giants who are limiting how crytocurrencies can be used. At the beginning of the year, Opera introduced protection from cryptomining as standard, while both Facebook and Twitter have banned cryptocurrency and initial coin offering ads on their respective platforms.