Following Apple’s widely publicized mid-March removal of the Mac app Calendar 2 for running a cryptocurrency mining tool in the background, the App Store’s Review Guidelines have been updated to explicitly ban on-device mining — across any type of app, and all of Apple’s platforms.
Titled Cryptocurrencies, new section 3.1.5 (b) provides five clear rules for what will and won’t be allowed in macOS, iOS, tvOS, and watchOS apps going forward.
(i) Wallets: Apps may facilitate virtual currency storage, provided they are offered by developers enrolled as an organization.
(ii) Mining: Apps may not mine for cryptocurrencies unless the processing is performed off device (e.g. cloud-based mining).
(iii) Exchanges: Apps may facilitate transactions or transmissions of cryptocurrency on an approved exchange, provided they are offered by the exchange itself.
(iv) Initial Coin Offerings: Apps facilitating Initial Coin Offerings (“ICOs”), cryptocurrency futures trading, and other crypto-securities or quasi-securities trading must come from established banks, securities firms, futures commission merchants (“FCM”), or other approved financial institutions and must comply with all applicable law.
(v) Cryptocurrency apps may not offer currency for completing tasks, such as downloading other apps, encouraging other users to download, posting to social networks, etc.
The upshot of the new rules is that while Apple will permit cryptocurrencies to exist on its platforms, it’s adding requirements to stop scammers and individuals from exploiting App Store customers, while making explicit that it’s blocking developers from eating Apple device processing power for mining activities. As AppleInsider notes, the Review Guidelines were previously less concerned with cryptocurrencies, allowing an app to facilitate crypto and ICO transactions if it complied with the laws in the app’s distributed territories.
When it blocked Calendar 2 in March, Apple cited section 2.4.2 of its Review Guidelines, noting that a background process to mine currencies in exchange for access to premium features ran afoul of its device resource drain restrictions. In the most recent update, that section’s language precludes apps from hiding mining (or other) features within background tasks.
Design your app to use power efficiently. Apps should not rapidly drain battery, generate excessive heat, or put unnecessary strain on device resources. Apps, including any third party advertisements displayed within them, may not run unrelated background processes, such as cryptocurrency mining.
Since the App Store is virtually the only place to acquire software for iPhones, iPads, iPod touches, Apple TVs, and Apple Watches, Apple’s decision will effectively end crypto mining on those devices. On macOS, however, users will continue to be able to acquire apps outside of the Mac App Store, enabling mining and other activities to continue without Apple’s seal of approval.