Apple Boots Cryptocurrency Mining From the iPhone

Apple is releasing a new operating system, and may be working on three new iPhones for this year. Unfortunately, none of those things will be used to mine cryptocurrency.

Credit: Shutterstock

(Image credit: Shutterstock)

Apple Insider has spotted new language in Apple's App Store review guidelines, released during last week's WWDC 2018, that now explicitly restrict cryptocurrency mining from apps and ads.

The guidelines now state that apps, and the ads in those apps, may not run "unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining." They also may no longer offer cryptocurrency as a reward for completing tasks.

That said, there are a few loopholes. Apps can still store cryptocurrency, and may still facilitate mining that occurs in the cloud, or otherwise outside of the iPhone or iPad in question. They may also facilitate cryptocurrency transactions on an "approved exchange." An app can facilitate an Initial Coin Offering (ICO) if it comes from "established banks, securities firms, future commission merchants, or other approved financial institutions."

Prior to WWDC, Apple allowed all apps to mine cryptocurrency and facilitate ICOs, provided that they did so legally.

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In the grand scheme of regulations, this one probably isn't a huge deal. Most hardcore cryptocurrency mining requires ASIC chips, the favorite for mining common cryptocurrencies such as Bitcoin and Ethereum, or other high-end processing units. iPhones and iPads aren't very powerful devices in comparison (though the A11 chip could likely mine some less demanding currencies) and it's unlikely that they'd be the device of choice for many serious miners. 

What it may do is work toward cracking down on crypto-related malware. In January, suspicious characters placed several ads on YouTube that sunk 80 percent of viewers' CPU into mining the Monero cryptocurrency before Google noticed and banned the ads. This regulation could serve as a warning to similar apps and ads on the App Store that claim to provide services to users while secretly mining in the background.

Apple hasn't yet revealed the reasoning behind this new regulation, but it also could have to do with optimizing the battery life on its mobile devices.

In addition to hijacking your personal device for unseemly ends, background crypto-mining can also drain your phone's battery. Unless you're the type of power user who checks battery usage every day, you could go a while without knowing that your phone is conducting an extra, very consuming process. And considering the uproar Apple faced the last time users noticed battery life decreasing, we can hardly blame the company for being careful.

Monica Chin is a writer at The Verge, covering computers. Previously, she was a staff writer for Tom's Guide, where she wrote about everything from artificial intelligence to social media and the internet of things to. She had a particular focus on smart home, reviewing multiple devices. In her downtime, you can usually find her at poetry slams, attempting to exercise, or yelling at people on Twitter.