The cryptocurrency world is still very much in its infancy. Yet as digital currencies continue to experience an increase in popularity, the demand for apps that deliver stellar functionality, convenience and safety is on the rise.
Given the global appeal of Apple and its brand of products, acceptance of an app on the iOS App Store has in many ways become both a mark of distinction and an imperative for success. A direct reflection of the rapidly advancing mobile age, legions of these new and updated tools are surfacing to assist the vast, worldwide crypto community with everything from managing purchases and trade transactions to monitoring the market for price information and blockchain-based investment opportunities. As these apps proliferate, users can find the sea of choices available to them a bit overwhelming and difficult to decipher.
Talk to companies who have invested heavily in the iOS app development and you will hear perilous stories and cautionary tales about the highly experimental, often uncertain nature of this process. This is particularly true with respect to the iOS platform itself, which can pose immense challenges and roadblocks in terms of cryptocurrency app acceptance. Apple has very high standards when it comes to approving and listing apps on the App Store, with some of the most stringent restrictions tied to digital payment systems. As a result of their requirements, some developers have had apps significantly delayed, outright rejected, or even yanked from the store shortly after release. And as an added pressure, there is often intense consumer anticipation and high expectations of a soon-to-be-released app, on top of tight deadlines and unanticipated hitches.
As a result, many crypto companies and their developers opt to start out with an app release on the much easier, open-source Android mobile platform. Some go ahead and release an early, scaled-down version of iOS with limited functionality. Other have elected to steer clear of the mobile realm for the time being in favor of web-based applications. Arguably, this is the reason why, compared to Android, so few alternative currency apps currently exist for Apple devices.
New iOS apps and learning moments
BTCMANAGER examined four relatively new iOS apps highlighting their features, benefits, and stages of development. And to conclude, we offer some quick pointers for consumers seeking to identify cryptocurrency apps that best align with their particular needs.
Jaxx 1.0 by Kryptokit
Released in the Apple Store on May 28th, this sleek and aesthetically pleasing app has the distinction of being the first iOS wallet where users can transact and store both bitcoin and ether, the two leading cryptocurrencies, in the same wallet. The beta version of Jaxx on iOS was tested for months by a select group prior to the official launch.
On the heels of this milestone having been achieved, the Jaxx team has now turned their attention to finalizing a “full featured DAO integration,” replete with functionality that allows users to view and vote on proposals featured on The DAO. As of today (June 7), Jaxx also operates as a wallet for DAO tokens.
Bitcoin and ether private keys are both sourced from the same mnemonic seed, which greatly simplifies the user experience. And to boost privacy, the HD wallet generates a fresh set of keys for every transaction.
Another element that’s unique about Jaxx but which some users might find a bit odd: Other than the original seed, there is no login or password credentialing, although PIN codes can be set for security. Jaxx also steers clear of holding or maintaining digital tokens, private keys or personal information for any of its users — a factor that, besides adding to the wallet’s security, also mitigates regulatory issues for the company.
Looking back at the process of navigating the iOS landscape to ensure Jaxx acceptance on the Apple Store, Chris Forrester the Chief Technology Officer of Jaxx offered this thought: “We found an excellent guide to the application process here, which we followed more or less to the letter. The main thing is to be persistent…and exceedingly patient. Allow at least a month for the entire process. Check spam filters religiously. [For example,] one important email from the government got trapped there. Most importantly, be forthcoming and make sure all information matches across different subsections of the [Apple Store] application.”
Widely touted by bitcoin evangelist and investor Roger Ver, Japanese-company LUXSTACK is on a quest to boost the portability and accessibility to average, everyday consumers worldwide. The long-term strategic aim of their iOS app and mobile wallet which was released in July of 2015, is to align it with Apple’s operating suite of features, allowing you to, among other things, view your BTC balance on your Apple smartwatch.
A desire to make bitcoin an integral part of everyday life led developers to curate a mobile bitcoin wallet that allows for ease of use and simplicity. It offers a couple of features: a function called Signals, which keeps users abreast of changes regarding their finances, as well as Tags, which tracks incoming transactions with tagged addresses. These two notification features alleviate the need to check wallet addresses several times a day for transactions.
Luxstack has also created a built-in integration with two exchanges, Kraken and Quoine, into their mobile wallet to facilitate the purchase and sale of bitcoin in exchange for fiat currency.
The long term prognostication for Luxstack’s iOS app remains to be seen. But with the backing of one of the global thought leaders in Ver, the ceiling of opportunity is arguably very high.
StartChat by Telegram
Telegram is has a worldwide reputation for being a super secure, encryption-based chat app. Last month it issued a new iOS app called StartChat that allows users to send and receive bitcoin from anywhere in the world within seconds.
Here is a brief outline of its robust features:
- Wallet currency conversion display ($USD €EUR £GBP Ruble, Yen)
- Two-click bitcoin transactions
- Additional security through Apple Touch ID and PIN Code
- Secret chat with end-to-end encryption and self-destruct function
- Secure wallet with private, user-only access to keys
- Telegram’s respected backend decentralized encryption
The highly anticipated release and consumer interest around StartChat reflect the high importance that users place on the security protocol that’s a part of an app. Expect new downloads of the app to be high, particularly in light of their launch incentive featuring a year-long $100 monthly airdrop for one lucky StartChat user.
Shapeshift and CoinCap
iOS apps Shapeshift and CoinCap could be proverbially viewed as two sides of the same app. Let’s start with Shapeshift. In short, it is an online exchange that provides users with the ability to exchange cryptocurrencies like bitcoin and other assets on the blockchain without any accounts or personal information being shared. Released in the Apple Store in June of 2015, Shapeshift aims to be the fastest, private, most convenient means of swapping these digital assets at a highly competitive exchange rate. No email address or password used; there is no signup process and no accounts.
And then there is Shapeshift’s companion app CoinCap, introduced in January of this year. It functions as a real-time market data app featuring pricing and market cap information for bitcoin and other digital currencies. It allows users to create portfolios to monitor their holding amounts and to set push notifications to ping users of price shifts.
This two iOS apps, the brainchild of bitcoin entrepreneur Erik Voorhees, continue to evolve amid the ever-changing bitcoin landscape and consumer demand. Related to this very point, Shapeshift recently announced that it will now support DAO (Decentralized Autonomous Organization) and DGD (Digix DAO) tokens on its platform, boosting the app’s total number of digital asset offerings to 32.
“We actually had a reasonably pleasant experience getting our iOS versions up,” said Voorhees. But offers a bit of advice to crypto app developers headed down the same path, based on lessons learned in garnering Apple’s approval his iOS apps.
“One, when applying remove China from your list of target/allowed markets. This helps avoid being rejected… not sure why, but it’s a little known secret.
Voorhees also recommends being cautious of updating apps too frequently. “When you update, apps are re-reviewed again. It would suck to make a tiny correction update and then have a previously approved app delisted. So the lesson is to group updates together and do them as infrequently as is practical.”
Some advice for iOS app users
App development efforts aside, a growing concern among many iOS users is how to choose among a rapidly expanding sea of app options. Common questions like “How does one distinguish between one wallet app or another? Which are the most reliable and have the best track record? What about the security protocol of the apps I download?”
Here are some brief pointers to pay attention to as a user in your app selection process.
Do your research and due diligence: Take the time to thoroughly surf the iOS store and assess which apps are best aligned with your needs. The Apple Store provides a great description for each app which you should read carefully. There is also a “Version History” tab in this section with information on bug corrections and new version releases. The good news is that Apple does a good job of monitoring and addressing anything that may pose an issue and has been known to quickly pull the trigger in removing apps that have a questionable history or track record. Nevertheless, doing your own due diligence is vital to ensuring a positive experience with the apps you download.
Gather feedback from cryptocurrency community: There are legions of places both live and online where you can gather valuable information and reviews on both new and existing iOS apps. Chat forums like Reddit, (r/btc), ZapChain and various bitcoin related Telegram channels are great places for discovering valuable insights and cautionary tales. The same applies to online reviews available on the iOS app store, BitcoinTalk, and BitReview.
The beauty in all of this is that crypto enthusiasts have never been accused of being shy or reserved about an app concerned. So look for the blinking red lights.
Is it user-friendly? : It’s no secret that some apps are clunky and difficult to navigate — a fact that you may not be aware of until you actually use the app. So don’t hesitate to offer your feedback when the app is not to your liking or a problem or issue occurs. And if problems still persist, then you may want to abort. Press Hold on the app you wish to delete and when it starts to jiggle, tap the small “x” on the upper corner of the app to delete. It’s as simple as that.
Chris Forrester offered some final words of advice on the most in-demand type of crypto app, namely, the wallet app:
“In terms of what to look for in a wallet: try to avoid wallets that collect your personal information, and especially those that store your funds in their own centralized server. Read the reviews on the App Store (and do a Reddit search) to see how they respond to criticism. Go to their website and see how transparent they are about their personnel. You can tell a lot about a company and a product from how transparent they are and how they address customers.”