The clock has been ticking for cryptocurrency mining apps to either comply with Google’s revised terms of service, or face removal from the Play Store.
In July 2018 Google initiated a ban on all apps that mined cryptocurrency on devices. Yet, around two weeks ago, it became evident that many apps that boasted on-device mining capabilities were still live on the Play Store.
As part of that ban the Big G gave developers, who already had apps live on the store, a 30-day window to revise their offering to comply with the new terms. The grace period has now passed. And while Google has begun purging some of the offending apps, it seems there is a lot more work to be done.
Of the eight apps we found in our previous report, three have been removed – MinerGate, AA Miner, and Free BCH Miner. NeoNeonMiner, Crypto Miner PRO, Pickaxe Miner, and Pocket Miner all still remain, and only one of those, Bitcoin Miner, claims to have amended its offering to comply with the new terms.
As we pointed out in our previous coverage, there was one app that even managed to launch to the Play Store after the ban. Google confirmed to Hard Fork this shouldn’t have happened, and proceeded to remove the app from the platform.
MinerGate, another mining app boasting over a million installs on Android, has also disappeared from the Play Store. Interestingly, MinerGate confirmed to Hard Fork that – in order to comply with Google’s updated terms – the latest iteration of its app was stripped down from its on-device mining features.
“Mining on your phone directly was among the core features of the MinerGate app before the last changes in Google Play Development policies.” MinerGate told Hard Fork in an email. “With the last update, we are removing this functionality to meet the updated requirements.”
At the time of writing there is no app under the MinerGate name on the Play Store. We reached out for further comment from MinerGate and will provide updates as we hear more.
Rogue mining apps
As we predicted in our previous coverage, developers are already looking for alternative ways bypass Google’s ban and distribute apps with on-device mining functionalities.
Indeed, despite removing the mining capability from the latest iteration of its app on the Play Store, MinerGate has also reissued an older version (which still comes with on-device mining) through its website.
The ban from Google can only go so far towards protecting smartphone users, be warned that if you download and install apps from third parties you may also be installing malware or other illegitimate scripts to your smartphone without even realizing it.
And as security research Troy Mursch reminds: “mobile devices are not designed, nor optimized to mine cryptocurrency.”