Cryptocurrency mining has become common across certain apps, but now the trend has infiltrated the Mac App Store. As noted by Ars Technica, the app Calendar 2 briefly, and openly, embraced crypto mining as an alternative to having users pay a subscription fee…
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The developer of the app, Qbix, said that Calendar mines the digital currency known as Monero. Essentially, users had the option between paying $0.99 per month, a one-time upgrade fee of $17.99, or allowing Calendar 2 to mine cryptocurrency in the background to unlock the “advanced” features of the app.
However, the rollout of the feature did not go as planned. One major issue was that the mining would continue, even if the user chose one of the other options. Furthermore, the miner was supposed to only use 10 percent to 20 percent of the user’s Mac, but was actually using much more than that.
Qbix founder Gregory Magarshak explained the issues in a statement to Ars Technica:
In short, as you can imagine, these two bugs caused issues for many of our users. We got a lot of messages saying “I love your app and used it for many years, but this version is kicking my computer into overdrive! Please fix it ASAP.” (Paraphrased.) And so forth.
What started out as a well-meaning option to just let people try out a new way to get all features unlocked became an option that made many people associate “mining” with huge CPU consumption.
Shortly after Ars published its initial story, Magarshak backtracked on the idea completely. He explained that Qbix will remove the miner in the app with the next update, citing the aforementioned bugs, concerns about the precedent the feature could have set, and more.
Here’s the full statement:
We have decided to REMOVE the miner in the app. The next version will remove the option to get free features via mining. This is for three reasons:
1) The company which provided us the miner library did not disclose its source code, and it would take too long for them to fix the root cause of the CPU issue.
2) The rollout had a perfect storm of bugs which made it seem like our company *wanted* to mine crypto-currency without people’s permission, and that goes against our whole ethos and vision for Qbix.
3) My own personal feeling that Proof of Work has a dangerous set of incentives which can lead to electricity waste on a global scale we’ve never seen before. We don’t want to get sucked into this set of incentives, and hopefully our decision to ultimately remove the miner will set some sort of precedent for other apps as well.
Ultimately, even though we technically could have remedied the situation and continued on benefiting from the pretty large income such a miner generates, we took the above as a sign that we should get out of the “mining business” before we get sucked into the Proof of Work morass of incentives.
What’s remains notable here, however, is Apple’s silence on the issue. The company seemingly approved the update that originally added the mining feature without issue. The feature has been live for around 24 hours, with no acknowledgement or comment from Apple.
Ultimately, while Qbix is removing the mining feature out of fear of setting a precedent, Apple’s silence and seemingly acceptance of the idea in the first place could be what encourages other developers to do the same.