Hive, a geographically distributed startup that builds bitcoin wallets, launched a beta version of its Android wallet app today.
Jan Vornberger, lead developer of the app, said that the company's product has key differences that will make it stand out in the crowded Android marketplace.
One of those features is the ability to host third-party bitcoin applications within the wallet – effectively, a Hive app store. Vornberger told CoinDesk:
"I would say it's our app platform, which makes Hive extensible, [is the big differentiator]."
There are essentially two main screens for Hive's main wallet functions; the first of which – a contacts list – appears when the app is started up.
If a wallet contact is also included in the Android device's address book, Hive will show that person's associated image. Swiping to the right takes the user to the transaction history.
Hive sensibly offers reminders that backing up the wallet is good practice and allows you to save the wallet's key information in a secondary place, like Google Drive, in case the device is lost.
Hive's app store
Hive made its name via an easy and reliable introductory bitcoin wallet for Mac OS X. Now, this move to Android brings the wallet's simplicity to users on the go.
Added value will come in the form of third-party apps that are accessed from a box icon at the upper right of Hive's main screen. This takes the user to a listing of installed applications.
At the top, there is a marketplace app that allows users to download other applications. Currently, since Hive for Android is still in beta, only a few apps are available.
Truth is, there aren't too many on the Hive desktop client either, as the ecosystem is still small. Furthermore, one notable absentee on Hive's mobile platform is the Coinbase app.
Vornberger explained that the Coinbase app on Mac OS X has been problematic but that the company "hope to fix that up at some point." Coinbase as a third-party app would be a great option – a way to move from fiat currency to bitcoin and over to Hive in a few easy steps.
The Hive Android wallet is one of the first to implement the payment protocol BIP70, which speeds up transactions by sending BTC directly to the recipient without waiting for block-chain confirmation.
BIP70 isn't widely used at the moment, but that may soon change, according to Vornberger:
"Of course, this only works if the payee also uses the payment protocol. For all BitPay merchants that's already the case, and I expect others will follow as well."
Vornberger gained experience building mobile bitcoin apps with his previous wallet project Bridgewalker, which was bought by Hive.
He said that, because the Hive app is just starting its beta phase, some aspects are subject to change.
"The current [user interface] and icon set is just a placeholder for the beta and will probably look different when we release the official version," Vornberger pointed out.
Hive is currently available in beta on the Google Play Store.
Disclaimer: This article should not be viewed as an endorsement of Hive. Please do your own research before considering investing any funds in this service.
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