UPDATE (30th July 11:44 BST): Users have reported a bug in the denomination functionality on Blockchain's iOS app whereby orders are being billed in 'bits' – also known as 'uBTC' – rather than 'BTC'. For example, a user buying an item would click the 'Pay with Bitcoin' link, but their wallet (configured to display in 'bits') would send .0843 bits instead of .0843 BTC. CEO Nic Cary says a fix will be implemented in the app's next update "imminently".
Following Apple's controversial removal of iOS bitcoin apps in January, the first of the big-name wallets relaunches on the App Store today.
Blockchain, which already provides hugely popular wallets for both desktop computers and Android devices, has unveiled its new-from-the-ground-up iOS wallet, which it hopes will bring bitcoin to users across the globe.
Prior to Apple's removal of all apps offering cryptocurrency transactions in January 2014, Blockchain was the most downloaded bitcoin wallet for iOS devices.
Blockchain's announcement will likely come as welcome news for the bitcoin community, which protested loudly at Apple's ban – with some users even shooting their iPhones in an unlikely show of support.
However, for reasons known only to Apple insiders, a new, more open policy was announced at the Worldwide Developer's Conference in early June, paving the way once more for bitcoin wallets and other apps that transact using cryptocurrencies.
In the weeks since then, the App Store has seen the addition of several bitcoin apps, including an unofficial wallet for Coinbase users and Gliph, a messaging service that lets connected users send each other bitcoin. However, Blockchain is the first of the major players to offer wallet services on iOS since early 2014.
Nicolas Cary, CEO of Blockchain, told CoinDesk:
"The moment Apple signalled a shift in their policy toward digital currency apps, we pulled the iOS project off the shelf and got to work. We wanted to use this as an opportunity to improve the wallet, but we were still apprehensive about dedicating huge amounts of engineering time because it wasn't clear what types of apps would get through the submission and approval process."
He added: "Working with Apple has been quick and easy, and we really appreciate their thoughtful guidance – it's a partnership we really value."
The new app
As well as exchanging bitcoin between wallets, Blockchain's app also allows iPhone and iPad users to make purchases from the fast-growing number of merchants that accept bitcoin – both online and in physical outlets.
Cary said that Blockchain has rebuilt its wallet app from scratch to improve security, enhance performance, and introduce a new user experience. He explained:
"The app strikes a strong balance between functionality and security. At Blockchain, we always believe in putting users firmly in control of their funds and that hasn't changed with the new iOS wallet. You'll also find a new security PIN screen and we have updated the default miners' fee when sending transactions.
New features coming
Cary told CoinDesk that the new wallet for iOS will be available for users to download from the App Store today, adding:
"We invite bitcoin enthusiasts everywhere to give it a try. We're looking forward to adding exciting new functionality going forward, including the very popular Merchant Map from our Android Wallet. Stay tuned for lots of updates."
He further explained that the return to Apple iOS is "hugely important for bitcoin in general and very exciting for Blockchain". The release of the app means that the millions of iOS users around the world will now have the opportunity to experience bitcoin first-hand, Cary indicated, adding:
"Furthermore, this confirms that Apple is welcoming back the development community to invest, build, and create bitcoin apps again."
Blockchain is currently the most popular bitcoin wallet in the world with over 1.9 million users. Its website, Blockchain.info, also hosts bitcoin charts, currency statistics, and a block-chain explorer.
Disclaimer: This article should not be viewed as an endorsement of any of the companies mentioned. Please do your own extensive research before considering investing any funds in these products.