I have had a few enquiries from other iOS developers who want to add Bitcoin into their apps but are confused as to what Apple will and won't Approve.
I have had experience submitting 3 Bitcoin applications to Apple and have summarised those experiences and my feedback in a document you can download for free HERE
or read below
I hope this will help other iOS developers create killer apps using Bitcoin! . . . . . Bitcoin and iOS: Apple App Store Review Experience I am an indie developer, I don’t earn a living off my applications and therefore would be appreciative of any donations for the information provided below.
Donation Address (BTC): 32Bzce9bp6rYAFJTAcRn6X6ufeyw7JRSrz Change Tip: [email protected]
I am MandelDuck and I created 3 applications for iOS that integrate Bitcoin, below I have documented the experience I have had and the feedback I received from Apple. I hope it may be of use to other iOS developers wanting to develop Bitcoin applications. Bity iOS wallet
The first Bitcoin app I got approved is ‘Bity’ a wallet that was approved at a time when Apple famously banned all Bitcoin wallets from the app store.
I had no conversation with Apple during its review process however I thought they approved it for the following reasons. 1. It didn’t store Bitcoins, it connected and used blockchain.info’s api. basically it was an interface, similar to visiting the blockchain.info website on your iPhone. 2. The user had to agree that they would not hold Apple responsible for any Bitcoin related problems they may have.
A few weeks after Bity’s release Apple allowed all wallet apps back onto the App Store.
In hindsight I have a feeling the Bity may have just slipped past Apple’s radar and they didn’t realise what it was or did.
NOTE: This app is no longer available, I removed it from the app store as there are much better and more secure wallets out there SaruTobi Bitcoin tipping game
Initially I wanted to develop a game that would help promote Bitcoin, the first release just had Bitcoin styled coins but did not actually utilize Bitcoin. I had thought that there would be no point in integrating Bitcoin as Apple would ban it straight away, this is because Apple make it quite clear you can only use Apple’s in-app purchase framework to unlock or buy items inside a game. However it occurred to me even though Apple won’t allow users to purchase items with Bitcoin they had no rules about sending the user Bitcoin, (I guess why would any sane person create an app that instead of receiving money from the user actually sent it to them). I made the change and submitted it to Apple and after a week I got a phone call.
Here are the key points I got from that phone call 1.) Apple’s number one priority is to protect users.
True they like the in-app purchase as they get their 30% cut but if users paid with Bitcoin in the app how would they request refunds from Apple if the in-app purchase didn’t work or it worked differently than advertised etc? if Bitcoin were to be used in the future to buy in game items it would still be through your Apple itunes account, similar to adding a credit card you would just add your bitcoin wallet. (note readers with a Bitcoin debit card can add that into itunes and buy in-app purchases with Bitcoin). 2.) The game cannot promise or guarantee the user Bitcoin
This is why the app “Tips” in Bitcoin and I tell the user in the app that they are not guaranteed a tip. 3.) The game must not allow the user to buy Bitcoin
This was a tricky point, as I had to convince Apple that receiving Bitcoin was based on luck and that buying power-ups in the game (with the in-app purchase) did not result in the users getting more Bitcoin. 4.) The game is classified under Apple’s Gambling policy
This made app’s rating 17+ and automatically not available in certain countries, all this is handled in iTunes connect when you set the apps ranking. 5.) The app can’t be allowed in China
I had to manually remove China from the list of countries in iTunes connect. I think Apple may be confused here as Bitcoin is not banned in China? I mean there are Chinese exchanges? I think they probably mean Russia however they told me to remove it from China so I did. 6.) Disclaimer
I had to include a disclaimer in the app saying “Apple is not the sponsor of the Bitcoin”
After I met all those requirements the app was approved. A few months later it was suddenly removed from the app store, a week later I received another phone call.
Basically this time they had concerns that the use of the Bitcoin coin in the game was misleading to players.
At the time the game had in game coins that were styled as the Bitcoin coin, they could collect these coins and unlock power ups. There was also a “Buy 500 Bitcoins” button which was an in-app purchase that allowed user to buy 500 extra in game coins. There were also “Black Bitcoins” in the game, if the user collected enough of these then they could receive a real Bitcoin tip.
Apple said that user may be under the impression they were buying real Bitcoin, the app did tell them they weren’t but fair enough I can understand the concern.
Apple also said that depicting any virtual currency in a misleading manor was against the guidelines, I think they meant that users may think they were collecting real Bitcoin as they collected the in-game coins.
In the end I changed the ingame coins to Bananas, and the black coins to “TobiCoins” a SaruTobi styled coin.
So if you follow the advice above you should get your iOS application approved, having said that Apple do seem to change their mind and it may depend on which App Store reviewer is chosen to look at your app. Game of Birds Bitcoin Tipping/Spending? Game
Due to all the experience I had with SaruTobi it was fairly easy to get this app approved, like Sarutobi the user can collect Bitcoin tips, however unlike SaruTobi the in-game coins in the app are still styled as Bitcoin coins and Apple haven’t said anything yet.
I want to see how far I can get Bitcoin integrated into iOS, as an Indie developer I can take risks like this. I have submitted a version of Game of Birds that kinda lets the user pay for in-app items using Bitcoin. I have made the items in the app free,the user is then prompted to optionally “Pay what they feel like” using Bitcoin. Technically Apple should allow it as the user is just donating/tipping the developer in Bitcoin which is allowed in iOS, this will allow user who would like to purchase items with Bitcoin purchase items. I’m not sure if this will get approved and at the time of reading it may or may have not been, but I hope it will make Apple think more about Bitcoin integration and help convince them to adopt Bitcoin gracefully rather than fight it.
If anybody has any questions regarding Bitcoin and iOS you can contact me at [email protected]
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