Tabassum Naiz - August 3, 2018
With the release of Google’s new policy update on Thursday, cryptocurrency mining apps are now prohibited on the official Android App store. Google’s move to ban crypto mining App is similar to Apple’s decision to ban crypto mining on Mac and iOS both. Nevertheless, Google and Apple both allow crypto mining if the processing happens in the cloud but not “on-device”. The official Google report states that: “We don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices. We permit apps that remotely manage the mining of cryptocurrency,” the policy states.
Google’s ban on “on-device” cryptocurrency mining apps was released following the ban on crypto-mining extensions from the Chrome Web Store earlier this year. The ban comes as a response to malicious activity that the smart phone industry faces. Google’s mining app ban intends to prevent cybercrime and malicious activities often seen in the world of crypto.
Developer’s new policy of Google also says “no” to apps that are developed using online tools. However, a developer individually registered to use automated tools can publish such Apps. To be more specific, Google’s store doesn’t like its store to be filled with “automated apps-as-a-service”. However, Apps with the full-page advertisement are also not allowed. Such apps urge people to click on target by showing full page Ads.
Recently cryptocurrency mining apps in app stores have been a subject to various controversies. It has become a topic of concern for miners and the developers of such apps and extensions. When the policy update was announced on the chromium blog, approximately 90% of all extensions failed to comply with the new policies and were removed or rejected from the store. It will be interesting to see what happens outside of the Google Play app ecosystem, since there are many non-official app stores within the Android ecosystem, like F-Droid.
Popularity will play a huge role here. Some of the apps that have been banned from Google Play might show up on other app stores. This might cause developers to migrate to these app stores permanently, pulling Google Play usage down. There are legitimate concerns with mining apps and with malware that uses smart phone resources to mine cryptocurrencies like Monero for example, without the smart phone user’s consent. This doesn’t mean that cryptocurrency mining apps should be taken down altogether. Instead there should be a stronger focus on device and account security. On the mining side, increasing difficulty will probably make smart phones obsolete as mining devices on most worthwhile coins in any case.