App Store Now Features Blockchain - Bitcoin Wallet App
[Update: On May 9, 2012 Apple notified Qkos that it removed Blockchain from its App Store.]
After persisting through weeks of rejections by Apple, an app called Blockchain can now be obtained from the App Store.
The app is free and can be installed on iPhone, iPod touch and iPad. Wthin seconds of clicking Install the app can begin receiving bitcoins.
This iOS app is functionally equivalent to Blockchain for Android. That app has been available since March from the much more accommodating Google play. Previously, a fully functional iOS version was available through Cydia for “jailbroken” iPhones. The creator of Blockchain.info, piuk, reported a week ago that the Android version was being installed at a rate 50% higher than its shunned iOS brethren.
When piuk first submitted Blockchain to Apple, the response read:
"We found that your app contains content - or facilitates, enables, or encourages an activity - that is not legal in all the locations in which the app is available."
Suspecting that one or more restrictive countries were the reason for the rejection, piuk resubmitted the app to be included just for App Store customers in the U.S. and UK. Once again, the Blockchain app was rejected.
Further speculation led piuk to believe Apple was not wanting an app that was able to send digital currency payments so he ripped out that functionality and submitted the app yet once again, albeit to the same response. Another approach was used — to submit the app for inclusion only in the Korean App Store. Though that too was declined, the message that time described the offending feature:
Specifically, the facilitation of trading of virtual currency is not appropriate for the App Store.
We encourage you to review your app concept and evaluate whether you can incorporate different content and features that are in compliance with the Guidelines.
Persistance did pay off. Finally, Blockchain v1.9.2 with full wallet capabilities was approved after an appeal and is now available from the App Store globally.
Most other Bitcoin clients for desktop platforms, including the Bitcoin.org “Satoshi” client, incur a delay after installation as Bitcoin data must first be retrieved from other peer nodes. Blockchain communicates through the Blockchain.info servers and as a result can be used instantly after installation.
The server does not have access to the private keys which are required for the bitcoins to be spent. Instead the Blockchain app loads the encrypted wallet from Blockchain.info’s host and performs all the actions requiring access to those keys right from the mobile app. Additionally, this approach allows a user to access the same wallet regardless of which device it is accessed from.
For iOS users who wish to give the Blockchain app a spin but are currently either out of bitcoins or have never transacted with bitcoins before, a free sample amount of the currency is available either from the Bitcoin Faucet or through BitCrate. Simply install first the Blockchain app and tap Receive to get your Bitcoin address. If you have no better use for the millibits you receive (a millibit is one thousandth of a bitcoin) you can either donate them or send them back to the faucet.
The question remains as to why Apple finally let the app in. One factor to consider is that last week Jason Calacanis (@Jason) described how an entrance into payments makes Apple a trillion dollar business. Maybe Apple’s self-imposed “no trading” litmus test used for approving apps would be seen as an anti-competitive maneuver and the company decided that it would be best to not give any reason that might stop their march towards becoming a payments giant? Or perhaps Apple saw the Android version of the app and prefers to maintain its strong iPhone market share?
Whatever the reason, the app is here bringing to over two hundred million devices an easy and secure way to send, receive and store bitcoins. As bitcoin continues its march as a global person-to-person payments system, this day has been eagerly awaited.
Blockchain app stores no personal information such as name and address so there are no privacy protections it must contend with. It does not involve card swiping and thus requires no PCI DSS compliance verification. It does not involve the exchange to or from fiat money (e.g., U.S. Dollars) so it needn’t first get approval from financial regulators. Bitcoin can spread faster globally than any well-funded competitor in the highly regulated payments space could ever hope to.
That a variety of desktop, web-based and now native mobile apps for Bitcoin are now available to well over half the world’s population is really something quite remarkable. The pace of innovation in the Bitcoin-related space is accelerating — something that could be revolutionary even, considering it all comes from participation by individuals as there is no corporation or industry group overseeing Bitcoin endeavors.
Might Bitcoin’s arrival to mobile, putting monetary freedom in our owns hands (quite literally) be the shot heard round the world?