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Android Wallet apps

Android Wallet apps

Those just learning about crypto currency have missed the opportunity to make a lot of money. Bitcoin is the most popular crypto currency in the market today followed closely by Litecoin. The currency is currently volatile as more players seek to regulate the peer to peer network and uncertainty looms concerning its use in various countries. For those who already own some Bitcoins and would like to manage them, or simply check what the prevailing exchange rates are, below are 5 of the best apps for Android.

Blockchain Android App  

blockchain app

The most popular Bitcoin wallet provider, Blockchain has released an app that allows you to store receive and send Bitcoins from your Android phone. The App was created to make Bitcoin more accessible to the masses and hide the complexity of protocol. The CEO of Blockchain hopes this app will encourage mainstream adoption of Bitcoin by making it as easy as sending and receiving an email. The App allows you to simply browse your address book and tap on the person’s name that you want to send Bitcoins to. If this person already has a Bitcoin wallet, then you can consider the transaction done, if they do not, the recipient will receive an email with a retrieval code that will enable them to access their money.

The App was recently updated to provide users with a map of merchants who accept Bitcoins as payment. Every merchant is verified, with new ones coming in every week. The app also has educational features that help you create and manage your wallet and suggest backup solutions. There are also a few tutorial videos available. Blockchain defends their company’s decentralized approach by cautioning people from trusting Bitcoin services that try to reproduce banking systems and store Bitcoins on their servers as these can easily be compromised. Block chain develops open source wallets that do not allow Blockchain to actually see their users Bitcoins, meaning it does not charge a fee for its services. Blockchain is currently the largest provider of open source wallets and have the opportunity to improve how Bitcoins transactions are handled. They are currently researching on how to create a Bluetooth or NFC program that would make transfer even easier.

The HIVE Android Wallet

Hive is a geographically distributed startup. Its Bitcoin wallet comes with a built in App store which has the ability to host third party applications within the wallet. This is the biggest difference between Hive and the other android wallet Apps available today. Its App is a platform that offers a user friendly experience. The app has two main screens; the first being a contacts screen that appears when the App is launched. The Wallet also accesses the Android address book and displays contacts that have Bitcoin addresses.

Bitcoin users are shown by image and swiping these images will show you the transaction history related to the contact. Added value comes from third party apps accessible from a box icon on the main screen. A drop down menu listing all the installed apps will appear. Only a few apps are available as Hive is still in Beta. The Hive Android Wallet implements the payment protocol BIP70 which makes for faster transactions, it sends Bitcoins directly to the recipient without waiting for a confirmation from the Blockchain. This protocol is not widely used, but may soon be the standard. Some aspects of the app will change inevitably, but for now, the app is available on Google play store in Beta version.

Mycelium

Mycelium app

Mycelium is a semi-open source wallet App available on Google play store. It provides a gateway to the Bitcoin network that gives full control to the user as they keep their own private keys. The app simplifies the generation of paper wallets and provides fast and secure payment options. The App utilizes secure cold storage payments to make transfers. It reads the private key of a paper wallet which is then removed after a completed transaction. This is done due to lack of encryption on Android phones that allow root access; Root access enables users to read a wallet’s private keys. The app also allows trading of Bitcoins at a fee of 0.2% per trade as well as GPS locations of other traders in your area. It also features a map with the location of Merchants who accept Bitcoin as well as Bitcoin ATM locations.

Bibao

Bibao app

This Bitcoin app is tied to Chinese exchange Bihang and allows users to trade crypto currency on their smartphones as well as follow the news. The Chinese love Bitcoin and they now have an app that helps them keep track of their coins. The app allows users to follow up on Bitcoins movements in real-time as Bihang is a Bitcoin Trading Exchange. Users can check their balance, receive price alerts and trade Bitcoins at no fee and supports both Bitcoin and Litecoin.

The People’s bank of China allegedly released a statement stating that all banks should cease working with sites that trade crypto currency. This move saw Bitcoin take a nose dive in the country. The bank has refused to comment on this statement though trading sites continue to work as usual. For the Chinese, Bibao is a fantastic app that allows them easy access to a currency that the government cannot control, with any luck; a similar app will soon be created in the Western world.

Aegis Wallet

Aegis app 1

Aegis is the newest kid on the block. The wallet app supports multiple currencies and provides users with the ability to view their transactions and addresses as recorded in the blockchain. Aegis also allows you to encrypt your wallet with a password or NFC tag. This is used to authorize sending of Bitcoins. If the user forgets their password, they can recover it from an encrypted back up file. By making usability and security their top priority, Aegis provides users with peace of mind by following the security standards set by the Bitcoin Security project.

Bonus App Bitcoin Wallet

Bitcoin wallet allows you to receive payments instantly and pay quickly by scanning a QR code. It was the first Bitcoin wallet App for mobile devices and is available at the Google play store. The wallet is completely decentralized and runs on a peer to peer network and converts Bitcoins to and from different currencies. It has an address book for regularly used Bitcoin contacts and allows you to still pay using Bitcoin even when you are offline using Bluetooth. The app notifies you when you receive Bitcoins and has a widget that enables you to see your Bitcoin balance. There is no registration needed and no fees are charged.

Apple App store and Bitcoin Wallets

Blockchain was the only Bitcoin wallet app remaining in the Apple store in February 2014. Back in 2013, Apple had deleted Coinbase and Bitpack, the only other wallets in Apple’s app store. According to Apple, the Apps had “unresolved issues”, but did not elaborate further. Six months later, Blockchain was returned into the app store and is currently the only Bitcoin wallet available for iphone users. The App, just like the previous version allows users to transfer Bitcoins from wallet to wallet and make purchases from the ever increasing list of merchants willing to accept the crypto currency. Following these relaxed rules, competitors have attempted to get their apps in the app store with little success. Coinbase’s iOS app was deleted less than a month after it was launched.

The app allowed users to view their Bitcoin balances and all previous transactions. Coinbase has stated that Apple did not provide them with reasons why the app was deleted but sources say Apple deleted the app for “quality reasons”. Wallets such as Bitpak have also had the same experiences in the Apple app store. Bitpak was removed in May 2012 and the maker reportedly received an explanation from Apple stating that “Bitcoin was not legal in all jurisdictions where Bitpak was available for sale”. This is in line with Apple store’s view Guidelines 22.1 which states “Apps must comply with all legal requirements in any location where they are made available to users. It is the developer’s obligation to understand and conform to all local laws.”

Bitcoin wallet Apps and their vulnerabilities

The Bitcoin foundation highlighted four Android wallet apps that are vulnerable to exploitation. Among these are 3 of the most popular Android wallets, Blockchain, Bitcoin wallet and Mycelium. These apps have since been updated and the vulnerabilities fixed. The foundation said that apps which do not allow users control of the private keys are not affected as generation of the private key is not left to your android phone. The problem, it should be noted is not with the apps themselves, but is a weakness within Android that generates secure random numbers which are vulnerable to theft.

The best defense against this is to employ rotation. Key rotation is the practice of generating a new address using a random number generator and then sending your money to this new address. Once this done, you will need to re-send the new address to all your contacts. The best way to prevent hacking however is to keep your apps updated. If this is not possible, use a computer based wallet until the vulnerability in Android is fixed. This is not to say that Android Wallet apps should not be used but that the holes in Android signify that the platform is still not quite ready for the Bitcoin takeover. The Android master key is the largest security hole. It allows attackers to install malicious code in existing software. The only way to protect yourself and your wallet is to Install Apps and updates only from the Google Play store.


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