Apple has already been battling issues related to battery usage on its iPhones, as reported by the phone users on various counts, and has been issuing updates for iOS to cut down on the power that is drained and the corresponding drop in CPU performance.
Now, the last thing Apple would have expected is some apps getting involved in cryptocurrency mining in the background of iOS devices, with or without the knowledge or permission of the phone user.
Cryptocurrency mining is a growing threat faced by major companies in the consumer tech industry. In response, Apple has imposed a ban on any kind of cryptocurrency mining on iOS devices.
Apple Updates Its Guidelines
App Store Review Guidelines is the instrument Apple has used to issue an official notice to all app developers that their apps will be taken off the store and new apps will not be approved if they had any hidden provision to carry out cryptocurrency mining.
The guidelines have mentioned three units of cryptocurrencies—Bitcoin (BTC), Monero (XMR) and Ethereum (ETH). These new regulations are appearing as part of the section within the Guidelines that deals with “Hardware Compatibility and Cryptocurrencies.”
One App Detected in March This Year
Earlier this year, Apple found that one of the apps on its Mac App Store was involved in cryptocurrency mining. The app was Calendar2, a scheduling platform developed by Qbix.
One user reported on Twitter that the app had caused his device’s CPU usage levels to leap to over 200 percent. In his tweet, he expressed concern of how Apple’s App Store accepted apps that allowed such activities without the permission of the user.
Apple soon took action and removed the app from the store. It was later reinstated after the developer removed the mining component from within the app.
Cryptocurrency Wallets Permitted
Apple has also confirmed that there is no issue if the users of iOS devices were to create wallets on their phones or iPads for any of the cryptocurrencies, as long as the mining activity has been carried out elsewhere.
As an example, the user can deploy the device to do cloud mining activities without any restriction. However, the mining is not permitted if it’s taking place from within the device.
Some app developers try and lure the customers by offering freebies in exchange for allowing them to use their device to mine the currencies. The above case of Calendar 2 involved the mining of Monero on a Mac device after the user had downloaded the app from the Apple App Store.
A Way to Cheat and Rob
The kind of activity observed by Apple of an app indulging in cryptocurrency mining on an iOS device is known as “cryptojacking.”
This is no different from a typical hacking incident or cyberattack.
The background to this is that the process of cryptocurrency mining draws excessive power from the CPU, and there are unscrupulous actors who would want to hook onto others’ systems to do the dirty work.
Apple’s devices are possibly the most expensive on the consumer tech market, and the owners of the devices are bound to respond with agitation if their device is put through such rigorous activity.
Even if the user were to indulge in crypto mining or allow another person to do it on their device, the basic fact cannot be overlooked that the device will be harmed significantly—it can either stop functioning completely or reduce to such poor performance that the owner has to buy a new device to replace it.
What Does Google Do?
If this is the case with Apple and iOS, the next natural question is what is being done by Google and its Play Store? It has already been reported that the browser extensions that permitted cryptocurrency mining have been banned by Google.
Another step that Google took in respect of the cryptocurrencies was issuing a ban on advertisements relating to cryptocurrencies or initial coin offerings (ICOs) on its ad platforms.
The directive was also very clear that any indirect means of advertising will be banned as well.