Apple has approved a bitcoin wallet app for the iPhone and iPad, though not without a key restriction: App users will not be able to send BTC.
bitWallet, made by a company called Sollico, is now available in the Apple App Store. The listing is notable given the struggles of high-profile bitcoin wallet providers such as Coinbase and Blockchain to have their apps remain in the store. Both companies saw their apps removed in events that outraged the wider bitcoin community.
A company representative from Sollico says it submitted the wallet to Apple under the notion that it might be approved if sending capabilities were prohibited:
“We assumed Apple’s objection is primarily sending bitcoins directly from the app, so we decided to submit the full-featured wallet app, but disable sending bitcoins.”
The prescence of bitWallet’s app suggests that Apple may be willing to allow bitcoin apps that cannot send or receive bitcoins directly. The app focuses on mobile security as well as privacy protection for bitcoin storage.
As it stands, bitWallet is a lone App Store option available on iOS for wallets.
Although the lack of a send function is an inconvenience, users can transfer funds via other methods with a wallet’s private key.
According the Sollico:
“As long as you have the private key, you can use any client to send your bitcoins – using Blockchain.info is easiest.”
BitWallet goes to lengths to ensure bitcoin wallet privacy on the iPhone. The app guards against the threat of memory scraping by clearing all sensitive information when the app is running in the background. Private keys remain encrypted.
bitWallet’s Watchlist feature allows users to track blockchain address transactions. The wallet uses Blockchain.info to retrieve data, and the company says it plans to bring on other sources of ledger information in the future for redundancy purposes.
Another company called Pheeva is planning to distribute a fully functional as a workaround to Apple’s bitcoin ban. A members-only private distribution method, cooperatives are commonly used in organizations to distribute internal company-only iOS app.
The bitWallet developers say that the approval process took Apple about three weeks, which is longer than usual.
Apple’s stance on bitcoin
Apple has taken a harsh stance against bitcoin apps since last December. That’s when when the company required messaging app Gliph to remove its bitcoin “attachment” sending feature. The Cupertino company most recently asked e-commerce app Fancy to remove bitcoin payments from its iOS app.
Popular wallet Coinbase had its iOS app pulled last November.
Likewise, in February, Apple removed the Blockchain.info iOS wallet from the App Store. This caused consternation among some users, with one particularly angry Blockchain.info mobile wallet user shooting his iPhone, destroying it.
bitWallet’s next steps
Despite Apple’s behavior towards bitcoin, bitWallet’s developers remain optimistic. They say that the plan is to submit another version of the app with sending functionality soon.
Sollico says that it plans to be very clear about the functions of its wallet when it submits future versions of bitWallet to Apple.
“Once again, we will be totally upfront with Apple about what the app can and cannot do,” the company added.
It remains unclear when or if Apple will ever allow bitcoin transfers to flow freely from within iOS apps.