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Google Play’s Anti-Crypto Mining App Policy Hasn’t Seemed To Work

While cryptocurrency mining has historically been a task completed by powerful desktop computers or ASICs, some innovative firms have decided to create applications that allow mobile devices to mine. These apps quickly garnered popularity in the cryptosphere, as users sought to accumulate a bit of crypto change through an easy-to-use, ‘set and forget’ mobile program.

But as reported by Ethereum World News, Google did their best to put an end to these apps at the end of July 2018. In a policy update, the technology giant specifically acknowledged crypto mining, writing:

We don’t allow apps that mine cryptocurrency on devices. We permit apps that remotely manage the mining of cryptocurrency.

As a result of this rule, all apps that provide an in-house mining feature would be banned and forcefully removed from Google’s so-called “Play Store.” Nonetheless, a recent article from The Next Web‘s cryptocurrency column seems to show that the ban has not been entirely effective.

Image Courtesy of TNW

TNW reporters first found an app called JSECoin, which is reportedly a UK-based blockchain startup that is focused on providing browser-based mining services as an alternative to mining. From this description, it seems that JSE is doing its best to replicate what CoinHive has done, this being an alternative method for websites to generate capital without displaying advertisements. Regardless, the startup recently announced that it had introduced its own program onto the Google Play Store.

Although JSECoin’s primary feature is to remotely manage a mining operation, the app offers a secondary feature of mining directly on your phone, which is evidently against Google’s newly instated policy. However, according to JSECoin’s co-founder and CTO, John Sim, his firm did not mean harm when they introduced this feature, nor did it have anything malicious in mind. After back and forth between JSE and Google, the technology giant removed the application from Google Play’s expansive selection of millions of apps. In a later comment, Sim noted that Google had temporarily suspended the app, noting that even a “low power CPU consumption” mining mode, which JSE provided, would not be permitted.

While JSE may be in the wrong in this case, there are other applications that still are present on the Play Store that do not abide by Google’s rules, which seem to be more of an advisory at the moment. A popular mining application that is still present is MinerGate, which markets itself as a way to “make a mobile crypto fortune” and a way to “mine on the go.”

Although MinerGate has 1,000,000+ downloads, with an amassment of 5/5 raving reviews, there are some individuals who aren’t convinced that the app does as it claims. For example, James Dawson-Shaw writes:

(It’s) Impossible to make money using a mobile device. Could work on a VERY HIGH SPEC computer to make £5 a month. Other than that, the company is the only thing making money.

Other outraged individuals claimed much of the same, with others noting that there were issues with the app itself, which hasn’t been updated in nearly three months to boot. But again, MinerGate is a small drop in a metaphorical bucket of dozens, if not hundreds (or even thousands) of applications that claim to support mobile mining and are still listed where Google was supposed to ban them from.

According to a recent statement from Google, the firm has only permitted these apps due to its grace period system, where rules are not acted upon immediately upon filing. While this explains the aforementioned apps, it still remains to be seen how JSE slipped through Google’s all-watching radar.

This isn’t the only time that Google has botched a cryptocurrency app-related situation. In late-July, Google unexpectedly dropped MetaMask, a popular DApp and Ethereum browser solution, from its desktop-focused store.

But even though Google may not be on top of the cryptocurrency-related app game, the American technology company has begun to show the slightest signs of acceptance of blockchain and cryptocurrencies.

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Google Co-Founder Mines Ethereum (ETH), Lauds Zero-Knowledge Proofs

ETHEREUM (ETH)–In a somewhat bizarre and surprising twist for Ethereum, the second largest cryptocurrency by market capitalization, Sergey Brin revealed at a summit yesterday that he has been mining the cryptocurrency with his son. Brin, a billionaire tech entrepreneur who co-founded Google alongside Larry Page, made a surprise appearance at the ongoing Blockchain Summit in Morocco where he shared with the crowd his experience mining the coin alongside his 10-year-old son.

One of our panels this morning at the 2018 Blockchain Summit was emerging technologies and trends – where blockchain,…

Posted by The Bitfury Group on Sunday, July 8, 2018

In addition to sharing his story of crypto mining, Brin lauded one of the underlying fundamentals to cryptocurrency: the act of zero-knowledge proofs. Zero-knowledge proofs is a cryptography principle that allows an algorithm to prove something true (such as a private key transaction) without revealing that information. This has formed the backbone to the rise of privacy-focused cryptocurrencies, such as ZCash, which allows users to participate on a public blockchain ledger while keeping the specifics of their transaction private. While all cryptocurrencies offer a degree of security and anonymity through the use of private-public keys, zero-knowledge proofs give the option for users to conceal their transaction history and still have access to a typical public ledger blockchain

Despite his company Google taking a hard stance against the advertisement and promotion of cryptocurrencies, Brin has been a proponent of crypto in the past, making a statement to investors in May where he praised Ethereum, in particular, and the accompanying mining process for creating a boom in computing and a “technology renaissance.” While his praise centered on the increased demand for GPU-based mining, he sees the net-gain of crypto as beneficial to the entire sphere of tech and computing,

“There are several factors at play in this boom of computing. First, of course, is the steady hum of Moore’s Law…The second factor is greater demand, stemming from advanced graphics in gaming and, surprisingly, from the GPU-friendly proof-of-work algorithms found in some of today’s leading cryptocurrencies, such as Ethereum.”

Brin’s appearance at the Blockchain Summit is more a direct acknowledgement of the industry, and may accompany a desire on his behalf–and hopefully that of his company–to take a harder look at the innovation created through cryptocurrency. While news of Brin mining Ethereum with this adolescent son is not the type of bullish price forecasting some media outlets are reporting (ETH is down 2% as of writing), it does provide further legitimacy for the broader industry of cryptocurrency. Investors and enthusiasts have to appreciate the complexity of cryptocurrency, in addition to the misconceptions wrapped up in the culture and industry. With Google and other media giants (Twitter in particular) taking a hard stance against the advertisement of cryptos, it’s down to grass-root efforts and community involvement to drive adoption. Having a figure as high-profile as Brin both recognize the value of the tech, in addition to participating in industry events like the Blockchain Summit, is a win for all of cryptocurrency. The next step is providing usability for the currencies, beyond just price speculation.