Top five Bitcoin apps for iPhone

Top five Bitcoin apps for iPhone

Bitcoin is a phenomenon of the digital age, a currency without borders or regulation, a form of money that is totally anonymous – and, as a result, it has been taking off leisurely but surely over the last five years, especially among geeks and tech-enthusiasts. If you have an iPhone then there are applications, widgets and utilities which can help you manage your bitcoin stash, send funds and keep a close eye on what the market is doing. Here’s a Top Five, hopefully with some multiplicity, to spark your imagination and get you going with crypto-currencies.

Bitcoin is a complicated subject to get your head around, at least if you want to understand how it works, but essentially is an encrypted asset that has either been earned (through mining) or purchased using real world money. The encryption is massively strong and Bitcoin is perceived as being very secure. Why is an blob of binary data worth anything at all? Because it’s hard to create. ‘Mining’ Bitcoin, like mining gold in the real world, is very hard and requires powerful computers attempting to solve and validate the encrypted transactions across the Bitcoin world. Which is partly why I haven’t recommended a Bitcoin mining application below – your smartphone would be drained of power by lunchtime and you’d still need to let it run (plugged in) for years to even have a petite chance of earning a single Bitcoin.

Five. CoinATMRadar (free)

The most common FAQ in the Bitcoin world (after “What is it?”) is very likely “How do I buy and sell Bitcoin?” Now it’s not that difficult to prove enough of your ID to buy Bitcoin online, but it’s also not trivial, so the presence of physical outlets in the real world where you can roll up with cold, hard cash and walk away with digital money may well be an lighter and more satisfying route. Not least because the comparatively few Bitcoin outlets will have (hopefully friendly) staff who can advise you on the currency and how it all works.

CoinATMRadar is the iOS application for the web service of the same name and is an up to date directory of all the physical shops and businesses that buy and sell Bitcoin. With a world map and drop-pins, every location is shown, and tapping a pin gives the business name and an ‘i’ (for ‘information’) shortcut, leading to utter contact details and any particular buying and selling thresholds. For example, ‘buying only’, and ‘up to 500GBP’, that sort of thing. If you choose, there’s also a textual list of ‘ATM’ locations, sorted by distance from your current location.

Pedants, at this point, will most likely point out that there are few actual ‘ATM’s involved (as in cash-dispensing machines, tho’ these do exist in some parts of the world), but the principle – of buying and selling Bitcoin in the real world – still very much applies.

Four. Bitmap (free)

One of the other most common questions about Bitcoin is “What can you buy with it?” And the truth is usually “not very much”, at least not in the physical world – go into your local supermarket or department store and ask if you can pay them in Bitcoin and you’ll get a curt remark in response! Bitcoins main purpose is to enable transfer of funds inbetween people and companies, of course – but there are some bricks and mortar stores and establishments which accept Bitcoin and that’s the purpose of Bitmap, of course. It shows where you can simply turn up and pay for something physical.

If you live near a major city then the chances are good that you can experiment with paying in this way, however the usual Bitcoin transaction delay may be an issue, depending on what you’re buying. The concept is elementary and so is the interface – just a pinch-to-zoom map with bitcoin icons scattered over it, tap any to see the business name and go after through to the ‘i’ pane, which normally has the relevant web site queued up. But it’s all you very likely need if you’re planning to spend some serious ‘coin’ in the physical world – the data here is from coinmap.org and the maps from OpenStreetMap.

I’d have liked to have seen more information about each Bitcoin venue displayed in the application itself, mind you – why not ‘peak’ the developer and support future development? Also, should you use the number one pick below then note that this also attempts to display Bitcoin-accepting venues, albeit not fairly to the same number.

The entire concept of buying from a real world business using Bitcoin is still fresh and most likely is worth an article in its own right at some point!

Three. Stocks (free)

Wait, what?! Stocks is one of the original (and core) iPhone applications, yet with a little help from you it can do something that none of the third party instruments can, i.e. include a widget displaying the latest Bitcoin pricing in your iPhone’s swipe-down ‘Today’ widgets pane. The trick is to know how to configure Stocks in the very first place.

So yes, I’m cheating slightly in that this isn’t a third party implement, but it will feel like one in your widget pane, so here goes anyway. Go into Stocks from your home screen icon and tap on the (hamburger) menu control, bottom right. This will display the stocks you have configured, along with the preferred order. Now, albeit Bitcoin isn’t a company, there are several indexes online that can be accessed using the usual stocks mechanisms. I’ve entered two ‘stock symbols’ in the example here, “BTCUSD=X” and “^NYXBT”, but it’s truly up to you. For best results, haul the right arm side treats to stir the bitcoin indexes up to (near) the top of your stocks list.

What this all comes to is that your iPhone’s swipe-down widgets pane will now showcase up to date bitcoin status, accomplish with delta percentages or numbers (according to how you’ve got Stocks configured). All without installing an extra applications at all* – and that’s pretty cool.

* Several third party applications did hint at widget support, but in my iOS Ten.Two testing none actually displayed up in the ‘Today’ widgets pane.

Two. CoinCap (free)

CoinCap is all about keeping on top of the value of crypto-currencies generally – Bitcoin is just one such, there are slew of others. The idea here is to track your overall worth across your ‘altfolio’ (get it?!), with charts and permanently refreshing values, copious display options and search facilities for the most obscure currencies on the planet.

There’s an ‘Alert Manager’, but don’t get too excited, this only fires once a day at the most, providing an enormously coarse warning system for often volatile crypto-currencies, plus you can only delete alerts once set up, you can’t edit them. Still, there’s a very real sense of excitement on the main ‘view’ pane, watching currency prices being refreshed, switching before your very eyes.

1. Blockchain Bitcoin Wallet (free)

Given how compute-intensive treating Bitcoins is, it’s not surprising that mobile computers such as smartphones are flawless devices to help you manage your encrypted Bitcoins, sending parts of them to other people or receiving them in turn. The concept here is of a digital ‘wallet’ and there are dozens of application which do the job, but the best wallet app for iOS is the one that’s made by the company online that you choose to host your Bitcoins.* So, for example, I use the fattest in the field, Blockchain.info, and helpfully they have a very first party application shown here. But if you use a different online Bitcoin wallet then by all means substitute my no. One pick here for the application managing your own digital cash.

* Yes, you can ‘keep’ your Bitcoins on your local computer, but what happens if your hard disk dies? You’re then into a entire world of restoring backups and messing around – it’s far lighter to store Bitcoins in the cloud. Just as with other documents these days, in fact.

Demonstrating my latest Bitcoin transactions, and (right) navigation of the application via a hamburger menu…

Using Bitcoin Wallet is effortless, thanks mainly to QR codes (those two dimensional blocky grids you see on products) – what is a long and unmemorable address to send Bitcoins to is ultra-simple to come in through simply pointing your iPhone’s camera at the relevant QR code. Ditto for receiving Bitcoins, for example from a friend, just demonstrate them the QR code in the app and they instantly have your own (identically unmemorable) Bitcoin address.

Just display your QR code to someone and they’ll be able to send you Bitcoins via their smartphone camera and their own Bitcoin wallet. In theory! (right) This wallet also includes a map of places accepting Bitcoins. The location highlighted shows that many may be less (ahem) mainstream!

Protected by a two-step set-up sequence per device, there’s just a four digit PIN to inject each time you go into the application. In brief, whichever very first party wallet you choose (Coinbase is perhaps the other main option here), it’s the adequate pinnacle of Bitcoin applications on your iPhone.

Top five Bitcoin apps for iPhone

Top five Bitcoin apps for iPhone

Bitcoin is a phenomenon of the digital age, a currency without borders or regulation, a form of money that is totally anonymous – and, as a result, it has been taking off leisurely but surely over the last five years, especially among geeks and tech-enthusiasts. If you have an iPhone then there are applications, widgets and utilities which can help you manage your bitcoin stash, send funds and keep a close eye on what the market is doing. Here’s a Top Five, hopefully with some multiplicity, to spark your imagination and get you going with crypto-currencies.

Bitcoin is a complicated subject to get your head around, at least if you want to understand how it works, but essentially is an encrypted asset that has either been earned (through mining) or purchased using real world money. The encryption is massively strong and Bitcoin is perceived as being very secure. Why is an blob of binary data worth anything at all? Because it’s hard to create. ‘Mining’ Bitcoin, like mining gold in the real world, is very hard and requires powerful computers attempting to solve and validate the encrypted transactions across the Bitcoin world. Which is partly why I haven’t recommended a Bitcoin mining application below – your smartphone would be drained of power by lunchtime and you’d still need to let it run (plugged in) for years to even have a petite chance of earning a single Bitcoin.

Five. CoinATMRadar (free)

The most common FAQ in the Bitcoin world (after “What is it?”) is most likely “How do I buy and sell Bitcoin?” Now it’s not that difficult to prove enough of your ID to buy Bitcoin online, but it’s also not trivial, so the presence of physical outlets in the real world where you can roll up with cold, hard cash and walk away with digital money may well be an lighter and more satisfying route. Not least because the comparatively few Bitcoin outlets will have (hopefully friendly) staff who can advise you on the currency and how it all works.

CoinATMRadar is the iOS application for the web service of the same name and is an up to date directory of all the physical shops and businesses that buy and sell Bitcoin. With a world map and drop-pins, every location is shown, and tapping a pin gives the business name and an ‘i’ (for ‘information’) shortcut, leading to utter contact details and any particular buying and selling thresholds. For example, ‘buying only’, and ‘up to 500GBP’, that sort of thing. If you choose, there’s also a textual list of ‘ATM’ locations, sorted by distance from your current location.

Pedants, at this point, will most likely point out that there are few actual ‘ATM’s involved (as in cash-dispensing machines, tho’ these do exist in some parts of the world), but the principle – of buying and selling Bitcoin in the real world – still very much applies.

Four. Bitmap (free)

One of the other most common questions about Bitcoin is “What can you buy with it?” And the truth is usually “not very much”, at least not in the physical world – go into your local supermarket or department store and ask if you can pay them in Bitcoin and you’ll get a curt remark in response! Bitcoins main purpose is to enable transfer of funds inbetween people and companies, of course – but there are some bricks and mortar stores and establishments which accept Bitcoin and that’s the purpose of Bitmap, of course. It shows where you can simply turn up and pay for something physical.

If you live near a major city then the chances are good that you can experiment with paying in this way, tho’ the usual Bitcoin transaction delay may be an issue, depending on what you’re buying. The concept is ordinary and so is the interface – just a pinch-to-zoom map with bitcoin icons scattered over it, tap any to see the business name and go after through to the ‘i’ pane, which normally has the relevant web site queued up. But it’s all you very likely need if you’re planning to spend some serious ‘coin’ in the physical world – the data here is from coinmap.org and the maps from OpenStreetMap.

I’d have liked to have seen more information about each Bitcoin venue displayed in the application itself, mind you – why not ‘peak’ the developer and support future development? Also, should you use the number one pick below then note that this also attempts to display Bitcoin-accepting venues, albeit not fairly to the same number.

The entire concept of buying from a real world business using Bitcoin is still fresh and very likely is worth an article in its own right at some point!

Trio. Stocks (free)

Wait, what?! Stocks is one of the original (and core) iPhone applications, yet with a little help from you it can do something that none of the third party devices can, i.e. include a widget displaying the latest Bitcoin pricing in your iPhone’s swipe-down ‘Today’ widgets pane. The trick is to know how to configure Stocks in the very first place.

So yes, I’m cheating slightly in that this isn’t a third party device, but it will feel like one in your widget pane, so here goes anyway. Go into Stocks from your home screen icon and tap on the (hamburger) menu control, bottom right. This will display the stocks you have configured, along with the preferred order. Now, albeit Bitcoin isn’t a company, there are several indexes online that can be accessed using the usual stocks mechanisms. I’ve entered two ‘stock symbols’ in the example here, “BTCUSD=X” and “^NYXBT”, but it’s indeed up to you. For best results, haul the right mitt side treats to budge the bitcoin indexes up to (near) the top of your stocks list.

What this all comes to is that your iPhone’s swipe-down widgets pane will now display up to date bitcoin status, accomplish with delta percentages or numbers (according to how you’ve got Stocks configured). All without installing an extra applications at all* – and that’s pretty cool.

* Several third party applications did hint at widget support, but in my iOS Ten.Two testing none actually displayed up in the ‘Today’ widgets pane.

Two. CoinCap (free)

CoinCap is all about keeping on top of the value of crypto-currencies generally – Bitcoin is just one such, there are slew of others. The idea here is to track your overall worth across your ‘altfolio’ (get it?!), with charts and permanently refreshing values, copious display options and search facilities for the most obscure currencies on the planet.

There’s an ‘Alert Manager’, but don’t get too excited, this only fires once a day at the most, providing an enormously coarse warning system for often volatile crypto-currencies, plus you can only delete alerts once set up, you can’t edit them. Still, there’s a very real sense of excitement on the main ‘view’ pane, watching currency prices being refreshed, switching before your very eyes.

1. Blockchain Bitcoin Wallet (free)

Given how compute-intensive treating Bitcoins is, it’s not surprising that mobile computers such as smartphones are flawless contraptions to help you manage your encrypted Bitcoins, sending parts of them to other people or receiving them in turn. The concept here is of a digital ‘wallet’ and there are dozens of application which do the job, but the best wallet app for iOS is the one that’s made by the company online that you choose to host your Bitcoins.* So, for example, I use the largest in the field, Blockchain.info, and helpfully they have a very first party application shown here. But if you use a different online Bitcoin wallet then by all means substitute my no. One pick here for the application managing your own digital cash.

* Yes, you can ‘keep’ your Bitcoins on your local computer, but what happens if your hard disk dies? You’re then into a entire world of restoring backups and messing around – it’s far lighter to store Bitcoins in the cloud. Just as with other documents these days, in fact.

Demonstrating my latest Bitcoin transactions, and (right) navigation of the application via a hamburger menu…

Using Bitcoin Wallet is effortless, thanks mainly to QR codes (those two dimensional blocky grids you see on products) – what is a long and unmemorable address to send Bitcoins to is ultra-simple to come in through simply pointing your iPhone’s camera at the relevant QR code. Ditto for receiving Bitcoins, for example from a friend, just demonstrate them the QR code in the app and they instantly have your own (identically unmemorable) Bitcoin address.

Just demonstrate your QR code to someone and they’ll be able to send you Bitcoins via their smartphone camera and their own Bitcoin wallet. In theory! (right) This wallet also includes a map of places accepting Bitcoins. The location highlighted shows that many may be less (ahem) mainstream!

Protected by a two-step set-up sequence per device, there’s just a four digit PIN to come in each time you go into the application. In brief, whichever very first party wallet you choose (Coinbase is perhaps the other main option here), it’s the adequate pinnacle of Bitcoin applications on your iPhone.

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