It looks like Apple wants to correct its past mistakes by moving carefully into cryptocurrency space. Over the course of last few days we’re seeing developments which suggest that Apple is now suddenly much more interested in Bitcoin than it has ever been. The company added BTC symbol to its icon pack a few days ago, and now yesterday at its Worldwide Developers Conference (WWDC, the annual event held by the company for developers) the company launched a new crypto toolkit as a part of the iOS 13 SDK. The kit – cleverly named CryptoKit by Apple – is being seen as company’s first careful step into Bitcoin and cryptocurrency space, without using the terms Bitcoin and cryptocurrency directly. But is that really the case? Let’s examine a few things first to get the answer.
First of all, this CryptoKit launched by the company is not a completely new product. The company already had a crypto framework in place called CommonCrypto, and CryptoKit is merely its upgraded version. Now, since it’s an upgraded version, it obviously comes with some features that were not present in CommonCrypto. For example, with help of this kit developers can build the ability to securely store a user’s cryptographic keys in the iPhone itself with security that matches the level of a hardware wallet. It contains more hashing functionality than its predecessor (i.e. support for SHA256 algorithm). But is that enough to be a game changer? Many people don’t think so. According to blockchain developer Ronald Mannak:
“The Ethereum community seems to stoked about a new Apple framework called CryptoKit. There are a few misconceptions I’d like to clear up. CryptoKit is a cryptography framework, not a crytocurrency framework. The existence of CryptoKit doesn’t imply any change in Apple’s stance on crypto currencies. Apple already had a cryptography framework called CommonCrypto that did many of the things CryptoKit does. CryptoKit is Swift-friendly and contains more hash functionality, like support for SHA256, which is welcome. The CryptoKit features don’t necessarily run within the Secure Enclave (as present in all current iOS devices and some —not all— Macs). Just like CommonCrypto, CryptoKit can gracefully fall back on Keychain if no Secure Enclave is present. The documentation suggests the SE still only supports the secp256r1 (aka prime256) curve, not the secp256k1 curve used by Ethereum and other blockchains. Unless that changes in a future hardware upgrade, YOUR IPHONE WILL NOT BE A HARDWARE WALLET. Note that private keys can’t leave Apple’s SE. The SE can sign messages for you, but you’ll never see the private key itself. You cannot back up your private key, which *may* limit its use in crypto (if the right curve would be supported, which is not the case). Is it possible to use 256r1 curves and the Secure Enclave Ethereum? Nope. Can you use it in a new blockchain designed from scratch? Yes, you can. CryptoKit is good news for Swift developers, but it’s not the game changer people in the Ethereum community would like it to be.”
Similar things have been suggested by some other blockchain developers too. It seems that Apple has taken this careful step after seeing the interest of Samsung and Facebook in this field, and in future as more and more companies adopt cryptocurrencies we can expect Apple’s interest to go up even more. And who knows, if this growing interest of companies can server as a catalyst for next bull run! Let’s wait and watch.