Hacker News new | past | comments | ask | show | jobs | submit login
“Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies” (developer.apple.com)
257 points by ca98am79 on June 2, 2014 | hide | past | web | favorite | 88 comments

This document reads like an enumerated list of why the web is better than apps for most things. Unfortunately, apps will likely prevail until OS producers work directly to empower the mobile web.

I don't think that Apple's walled garden approach to iOS apps applies to other OSes. Android has multiple alternative app stores and allows direct installation of app files without rooting.

And, frankly, I would hope that in general that apps win. Not the kinds of apps that are just a wrapper for a website necessarily, but for a great many things I'd prefer an app running on my hardware in a way that I can control with things like a firewall to some sort of cloud solution that I'm accessing through a browser.

> I don't think that Apple's walled garden approach to iOS apps applies to other OSes.

Windows Phone 8.1 & Windows RT 8.1?

I've never used a Windows phone, I just assumed that they didn't have one because I never heard any complaining. Still, the android family of OSes is the major competition, and they are very decidedly not using a walled garden.


They do have similar, perhaps not quite as bad guidelines. However most don't complain because iOS is way more popular as a target.

This list of rules seems like a case of ban everything with selective enforcement. Then if Apple ends up wanting to remove an app, the app has surely broken at least one rule.


It also contains a severe condescending tone how 'big daddy' is doing all this for our own well being. And of course, think of all the children!

It's a blaming tone. "And we think that you will also know it when you cross it." is a statement that will assuredly not be true for everyone whom they believe 'crossed a line'.

Since it's probably past the point of being editable, I just want to put the standard "conflict of interest"/"shameless plug" disclaimer on this parent comment, since it was posted by one of my colleagues at famo.us. We'll make sure to better disclose these things next time.

That being said, the approaches we're exploring with famo.us (a retain-mode scene graph) is absolutely essential for allowing web apps to compete with native apps. This approach is often overlooked by web developers who grew up on the web and are not familiar with how native windowing and retain-mode UI systems function.

>apps will likely prevail until OS producers work directly to empower the mobile web

So you want web apps that are not web apps (with special hooks to the hardware and native features etc).

Having your cake and eating it too in other words.

> So you want web apps that are not web apps (with special hooks to the hardware and native features etc).

Is that an unreasonable thing to expect? HTML touch events are provided by a special hook to the hardware and/or OS. The same applies to audio/video elements, WebGL, geolocation, websockets, and any number of other APIs. That's just how the web platform has been developing, and there's no reason to think it will stop.

With each day I get stronge feeling that "the web" has some identity crisis. It's like a sumo wrestler who suddenly decided he should be a gymnast. I am already missing the web tech for the web not some ass-backwards usage of it to make apps.

Maybe we need to reinvent the app layer. Half the reason web apps are such a good choice (currently) is because of strong sandboxing that allows dynamic code to run locally and consistent display standards.

If someone could replicate those on an app layer that wasn't the DOM and javascript, so you could simply link to a URL and download and run an app with high performance I reckon we could stop abusing the web.

Still a pretty tall order though.

There's no point having cake if you can't eat it.

Yes but you cant both have it and have eaten it at the same time.

Oh how blessed are we that the landlords allow such mischief...

Seriously people are pissing themselves all over with these announcements as if they weren't possible before.

> Oh how blessed are we that the landlords allow such mischief...

That's a fantastic quote! I couldn't find it via DDG, Yahoo and Google. Is that original to you? It really resonates with me.

I may have heard it somewhere so I can't claim originality but it came out of my head at the time in a sarcastic rage.

Section 11.17

> Apps may facilitate transmission of approved virtual currencies provided that they do so in compliance with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions

> "of approved virtual currencies"

... which begs the question: Are there approved virtual currencies? I'd also be curious whether litecoin is on that list as well.

Could be wording that allows Apple to blacklist future virtual currencies as needed (i.e., mmorpg credits).

I'm guessing Apple approves them, because other sections mention approving as well.

So largely the US is out since the Fed said Bitcoin is not a currency, right? Or the term "virtual" makes it not required to be approved by the Fed? Who is the approver then?

> So largely the US is out since the Fed said Bitcoin is not a currency, right?

I guess I missed that. I remember the IRS said bitcoin would be taxed using non-currency rules, but the specifics of how something is taxed doesn't necessarily impact whether Apple "approves" it as a virtual currency.

I wasn't even criticizing Bitcoin and got downvoted already? Aww..

I was talking about this, which amounts to almost the same thing:


"Approved" in the Apple rules probably means by Apple, not by someone else.

Yeah - But there is absolutely no reference to "bitcoin", "crypto", "coin", or anything remotely associated with these things.

They are really inconsistent with their rules, so I have my doubts until they make a clear statement about it.

OT, but: "We have lots of serious developers who don't want their quality Apps to be surrounded by amateur hour."

Really? Searching for "fart" in the app store just returned 969 results. Give me a break.

To be fair, they do mention this issue:

2.11 Apps that duplicate Apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them, such as fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra Apps

>2.11 Apps that duplicate Apps already in the App Store may be rejected, particularly if there are many of them, such as fart, burp, flashlight, and Kama Sutra Apps

Interesting. It looks like Apple may be trying to clean up the market by encouraging devs to consolidate these critical functions in one app

969 out of 1.2 million

That's almost a tenth of a percent. For just the word "fart" alone that is pretty high.

Spoiler: The only approved currency is Dogecoin.

To the moon!

Seriously though, I'm a little surprise to see Apple do this. It will be interesting to see if they actually approve any currency, or if this is just a hedge they can use to keep Bitcoin (etc.) apps out of the store but let you trade EBay Bucks and Linden Dollars.

Title changed from "Apple now allows Bitcoin-transmitting apps" because the article does not mention Bitcoin.

It appears that this bitcoin wallet app, which the developer previously announced was being removed by Apple, was quietly reinstated in the iTunes store sometime recently.

(I only say "appears" because it's hard to know if and when it was removed.) Anyway, the app's features do now include 'Send and receive payments'



The same app is about to become available in Apple's app stores in Europe and parts of Asia (no US, though)

So it now seems even more likely that there this is a real shift in policy and Apple is considerably more positive toward bitcoin payment apps now: http://reddit.com/r/Bitcoin/comments/276w8l/just_sent_some_b...

Combined with these clauses, You clearly can't use virtual currencies to purchase in-app items, but you possibly could use them to buy real-world items and also other virtual currencies?

11.2 Apps utilizing a system other than the In-App Purchase API (IAP) to purchase content, functionality, or services in an App will be rejected 11.3 Apps using IAP to purchase physical goods or goods and services used outside of the App will be rejected

Does anyone have historical snapshots of this document for comparison with previous statements about virtual currencies? The Wayback machine appears to only have redirects to the developer login page here. This is being presented as a change, but without a previous version I don't see how we can consider it one -- the language might be unchanged but have been interpreted strictly by the review process, for example by defining "approved" very narrowly.

Off-topic, but I notice that the guidelines prohibit buttons for external purchase of in-app content, but as I recall, they used to prohibit buttons for external purchase of any digital content; why is why the Amazon app could not sell Kindle versions of books. I would be curious to see whether there is a change in policy or if Amazon was either being overly cautious or the restrictions were being applied more severely than a literal reading would indicate.

This post has some text of rejections from Apple in the past: https://blog.gli.ph/2013/12/09/the-state-of-bitcoin-mobile-a...

They used the generic "this is not legal in all jurisdictions" clause.

So it depends on which stores you submit the app to? Makes sense – and should be relatively easy to figure out.

Here's a plain text snapshot as of February 12, 2014:


What about flattr? Apple denied podcast apps that had a flattr button before... is this now ok again as well?

That might have been banned for making an in-app purchase without giving Apple their cut.

No, flattr cannot be used for in-app purchases. The idea behind flattr is that you voluntarily honor a podcast (or some other work that somebody has created and put online) by putting them on your personal list of people that will get a fraction of some amount you decided to donate at the end of the month.

The key concepts being "voluntarily donate" and "not a fixed amount", which differentiates flattr completely from in-app-purchases.

Apple was apparently uncomfortable with such a strange concept that it could not bring into line with its capitalistic mindset, and promptly banned it.

Sad to hear that Apple hasn't changed its mind on this front.

Would it suffice at all for Apple to make the same assertions over your financial practices using say, a browser that runs on OS X?

I'm going to ruminate on this one a bit but I don't like it.

"...with all state and federal laws for the territories in which the app functions"

Total United States Bitcoin companies that meet this criterion: zero.

What I found interesting was the style of this document. This is much less formal than what I would expect front Apple, it's sort of jarring ... "brace yourselves" ... I doubt this would have gotten through in days of old.

There is no mention of Bitcoin in this document. The title should be corrected.

Time to spend the next 24 hours hacking on a Bitcoin app. Any suggestions?

Flappy Coin: You pledge a small amount of imaginary money before launching a game. For each gate you fly through, the sum gets smaller. The longer you manage to play, the less money you lose. Target 14 year olds with "Bitcoin YOLO, are you cool enough to gamble?" Teaches them how Kevin's negative funny fail record from a week ago is nothing to boast about because the bubble burst and he only lost 2 cents, not 5 dollars. LOL, what a wanker!

fun fact: there's already an altcoin called flappycoin.

Whatever it is, the Chain.com API will make it easy to build quickly =)

Wow, they bought chain.com? They aren't fucking around.

Someone should resubmit their bitcoin app and see if it passes this time.

The coinpocket html5 web app renders this issue moot.

"If you run to the press and trash us, it never helps."

subtitles: "do not exercise your 1st amendment rights or else."

> subtitles: "do not exercise your 1st amendment rights or else."

Thank you for this textbook example of the common misunderstanding that the 1st Amendment protects people from all consequences of their speech.

The 1st Amendment restricts the laws that Congress may pass. Corporations are (in most jurisdictions) formed as a privilege granted by law, and foreign corporations are licensed to operate by law.

Of course, that relies upon strict logic, when the justice system relies somewhat upon political expediency and kritarchic traditions.

If you believe that free speech is a basic human right, common to all natural persons, then any consequence of any speech, no matter how odious or damaging, is preferable to the consequence of attempting to alter or stifle the words before they are said. But the former can be seen, and the latter cannot.

We cannot know the value of speech left unsaid for fear of retaliation.

So while the U.S. foundation law does not explicitly protect freedom of speech from any entity other than the U.S. governments, its commercial codes and corporations laws do govern the behavior of incorporated businesses, so in theory, they should contain provisions for stripping away corporate privileges as punishment for engaging in behaviors denied to the government, or be considered unconstitutional otherwise.

Such arguments are not likely to go far in the courts, however. Quite a lot of judges own stock in at least one corporation.

If you say something I don't like, I can hold it against you personally, and I can direct my unincorporated businesses to do likewise. But I cannot direct a corporation's resources towards viewpoint-based discrimination, even if I own 100% of the voting stock.

The realpolitik is that so long as your business makes the proper political campaign contributions, major offenses become minor, and minor offenses are overlooked. Really, the common misunderstanding is that politicians pay more heed to the constitution than their own interests.

> But I cannot direct a corporation's resources towards viewpoint-based discrimination, even if I own 100% of the voting stock.

Yes, you can. It'd be idiotic if a person could sue a company because said company refused to hire them after it was discovered that the candidate for hire had a long history of being a nazi apologist and holocaust denier. I'm open to correction on this point, but blaming it on rampant corruption in the justice system based on judges' conflict of interest is veering hard into tinfoil hat territory.

I'm not a fan of corporate personhood, but at the same time I can completely understand how an entity should be free to decide which persons or companies it does business with, and behavior/speech are totally valid criteria in this decision.

I am not a lawyer. I believe that in an aggregation of people, the assemblage itself does not have greater rights, powers, or abilities than those possessed by the individual members. It cannot do more than its members.

It can, however, by voluntary cartel cooperation, do less. Thus, while people individually have the right and ability to discriminate based on viewpoint, they agreed upon the creation of their government to deny the aggregate that right, as a means to protect its minorities from the agency problem.

Corporations, being a creation of that government, cannot assume powers that their creator does not possess. Sole proprietorships and partnerships, being creations of the people directly, can discriminate to the same extent as their creators--as much as they please. Corporations cannot discriminate in that fashion because their creator cannot.

The people do not create the corporation. They petition a government to create it and grant full operational control of it to them. That is an important distinction.

Allowing the government to create a separate entity under its authority that can do more things than it can is simply abrogating the original cartel agreement. You might as well not have a government acting as the middleman at all. Just raise a private army and do as you please.

Wikipedia lays it out pretty clearly[1]:

> The basis for allowing corporations to assert protection under the U.S. Constitution is that they are organizations of people, and the people should not be deprived of their constitutional rights when they act collectively.

You're free to disagree and pursue an amendment to change this reality, but this has been settled case law for quite a while now.

[1] http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Corporate_personhood

I don't like to point fingers, but lawyers can write buggy code and relase it into the wild, too.

My logic is sound. I'll reduce it to a smaller example case for simplicity. The world has exactly 3 people in it. Between the 3 of them, they can do exactly as much as 3 people can possibly do. However, left to their own devices, their efforts are not coordinated. They sometimes duplicate their efforts, and sometimes interfere with one another. You can imagine them as n-dimensional vectors pointing away from a common point.

The sum of their magnitudes defines the sphere of human influence. If they all voluntarily pointed in the same direction, they could reach a point on this sphere. If that cooperative vector is projected onto each of their natural vectors, its magnitude could be greater than their own, working independently. (It could also be less.) Those people for whom it would be greater can realize an advantage by cooperation.

So these 3 form a civilization. They decide that they will allow the others to constrain the direction of their natural effort vectors, so they are not coincident with their goal vectors. Note that prior to the agreement, they could point in any direction they pleased. They voluntarily limit their own freedoms for mutual advantage. They establish rules that still allow some leeway in choosing direction, but encourage a direction that still yields cooperative benefits. These rules run the gamut from laws governing capital crimes to the dinner table etiquette for eating escargots.

So far, so good. We have reduced human society to 3 arrows in space, and their sum vector. Take a moment to bask in the nerdliness before we continue.

Now let us imagine that the vectors of two participants are more closely aligned to each other than with the third. These two decide to form a company. The rules of the company provide additional rules that encourage different vectors from those of larger cooperatives. The two participants change their vectors accordingly, and suddenly the sum of all three effort vectors projects longer magnitudes on their goal vectors and a shorter magnitude onto the third person's goal.

The company has a smaller sphere of influence than the civilization, having radius equal to the magnitude of only two effort vectors rather than three. But the closer alignment of goals allows more efficient cooperative rules.

Being separate influences, the company rules could provide enough of a benefit that company participants could decide to break civil rules. In this instance, anyone participating in the civil agreement but not the company agreement would be able to correctly say that the company is incompatible with the civilization, and the civil rules should be amended to compensate. Perhaps it would institute a rule for corporations, to establish a mechanism for creating companies that do not undermine the civilization's rules.

Now, the two people in the company could decide to continue only under their company rules. But in that case, they should not expect that third person to continue under the civil rules. That third person may, in fact, have to conter-compensate his effort vector to achieve a longer projection of the sum-of-efforts vector on his goal vector.

By this model, any company that does not include in its ruleset all the same rules as the civilization should not expect to benefit from those rules.

The conceit that a corporation is legally equivalent to a natural person in the purview of the government is limited by the fact that the government is the only entity that sees it as a person. You have to choose to wear special glasses to see it that way. Everyone else sees it as a legal fiction, and only plays along insofar as the arrangement benefits them--that is, as long as the corporation acts in the public interest.

The facts remain that corporations are creations of the government, and the government should not be able to create anything with powers that it does not itself possess. Should people wish to cooperate using an entity with additional powers, they must do so directly, without the assistance of their intentionally-limited-in-powers government. In that case, they will be unable to realize any advantages from the massive cooperative benefits the government may access. While the private partnership can do no less than its partners, it can also do no more. Tapping into more cooperative benefits requires adhering to stricter cooperative rules.

> I don't like to point fingers, but lawyers can write buggy code and relase it into the wild, too.

Buggy code generally gets fixed when people realize it's a bug. This release has been in production for over a century, repeatedly reviewed and confirmed as a 'feature.' In the eyes of the law, corporations are associations of people, and people don't have to surrender their other rights just because they exercise their right of association. I totally agree that corporations should have fewer rights than people, but this isn't how the world works and likely won't ever be.

1st amendment rights only apply to the government.

No one is claiming that it's illegal. People can give up their rights as long as it's voluntary. It's generally seen as wrong or socially unacceptable to require that though.

And government grants corporate charters. They, and we need to remember this fact.

And, corporations can be unmade as a punishment.

Do you have a legal precedent to point to? The Bill of Rights (the first 10 amendments to the constitution) didn't even apply to state governments until the 14th amendment.


> Do you have a legal precedent to point to?

For revoking corporate charter? Every jurisdiction which grants them also already reserves the power to revoke them. E.g., Delaware: http://codes.lp.findlaw.com/decode/8/1/X/284

For revoking a corporate charter for violating a customer or partner's 1st amendment rights.

What precedent would one need?

You ask the government for a license to incorporate. You pay some money to facilitate this incorporation.

This is no different than a drivers license. The gov't can say yea or nay to that under criterion they decide.

It's also just plain wrong. There are many cases where running to the press has been the solution.

"Cryptocurrency" is a misnomer. Bitcoin is an asset and even its biggest supporters agree with that. "Cryptoasset" - yes, "virtual currency" - no.

Bitcoin isn't a "virtual currency," it's a "digital currency." "Virtual" means "simulated." Money in video games is "virtual currency."

If you're going to argue semantics, you need to make sure that you get the semantics correct.

The most common use of "virtual" is "being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted" (from Merriam Webster Dictionary). By this, the most common definition, Bitcoin is most definitely a "virtual currency".

> Bitcoin isn't a "virtual currency," it's a "digital currency."

Maybe to you, but not to, e.g., the US Department of Treasury's Financial Crimes Enforcement Network (FinCEN). See definitions at: http://fincen.gov/statutes_regs/guidance/html/FIN-2013-G001....

The FinCEN definition is probably more widely used than whatever rule you are using that excludes Bitcoin as a virtual currency.

FinCEN is incorrect. Go look up the definition and history of the word "virtual." And I've been making this point since before FinCEN started caring about bitcoin.

I don't know if you understand that the government does not create truth.

> FinCEN is incorrect.

No, they aren't.

> Go look up the definition and history of the word "virtual."

Even if that supported your argument (which it doesn't, see next paragraph), it wouldn't matter, because the meanings of phrases aren't necessarily determined by the meanings and/or history of the component words in isolation.

But FinCEN's definition of "virtual currency" is consistent with the common definition of "virtual". Their definition of "virtual currency" is exactly the #1 definition of virtual [1] applied to the uncontroversial definition of "currency". (And calling Bitcoin virtual currency would also be consistent with definition #4, particularly definition #4a, though some non-electronic entities that would meet FinCEN's definition would be excluded by that definition.)

> And I've been making this point since before FinCEN started caring about bitcoin.

You being wrong for a long time doesn't make you any less wrong.

> I don't know if you understand that the government does not create truth.

I don't know if you understand that legal definitions established by government do create meanings that are used in legal documents such as contracts, terms of service, etc., whether or not they are "truth" in some abstract, idealized sense.

[1] from: http://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/virtual

In what sense is bitcoin NOT a currency?

It has to not be a currency to be a virtual currency, by the definition you favor.

Any answer I can imagine that you would give would invalidate other things we all consider currencies, unless you draw a line based on non-fundamental properties (e.g. such as backing by government force or market cap). And you can't form a proper concept using non-fundamental properties.

So the definition you favor actually supports my view, though I think the definition you favor lacks appropriate context and nuance (which is often true of dictionary definitions).

Talking about the government defining something creating meaning is just irrelevant. You're obviously telling me things I already know, but the government is technically incorrect on this. Just as they are on calling capital gains "unearned income," for example, since many successful investors work hard and do earn their income.

> It has to not be a currency to be a virtual currency, by the definition you favor.


> being such in essence or effect though not formally recognized or admitted

Here is the definition he favors, it has to be not formally recognized or admitted as a currency to fit this definition.

I shouldn't even have bothered responding to such a worthless comment.

> "Virtual" means "simulated."

According to whom? I usually hear it used to mean "existing in an electronic form."

"Virtual" is a much broader term than that with a long history. And in everyday English, it is typically used in accordance with that history.

It's confusing because a lot of stuff on the computer is virtual---but not all.

For instance, we don't call nytimes.com a "virtual newspaper" and we don't call Internet fora like this one "virtual fora".

The world of Warcraft is a "virtual world" because it is a simulation of a world.

> "Virtual" is a much broader term than that with a long history.

It is a much broader term with a long history -- which makes it odd that you are arguing for a wierdly narrow definition that is inconsistent with that long history.

And it has suffered similar abuse to "cyber-".

(Gus P.: ...which is come from the Greek word "kybernetes", meaning "steersman".)

Whenever words achieve buzzword status, that long and rich history and etymology goes out the window. But in the sense that "virtual" means "form without substance", it has not suffered nearly as much abuse. If a virtual currency is just a medium of exchange without a concrete physical embodiment, such as notes or tokens, that definition is not so narrow.

Even the USD and the EUR are mostly virtual currencies nowadays. The fraction of the money supply represented by banknotes and coins as opposed to accounting ledger entries on secured bank servers is small and decreasing.

As a disambiguator, either "ersatz" or "crypto-" would be less affected by buzzword distortions.

Even though your definition might be more precise/sensible, bitcoin as "virtual currency" is a term-of-art at this point: Both FinCEN and the ECB have defined virtual currencies to include bitcoin.


Registration is open for Startup School 2019. Classes start July 22nd.

Guidelines | FAQ | Support | API | Security | Lists | Bookmarklet | Legal | Apply to YC | Contact