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article imagePopular Calendar 2 Mac app bundled a built-in crypto-miner

By James Walker     Mar 13, 2018 in Technology
A third-party iOS calendar app has been found bundling a built-in cryptocurrency miner in an attempt to generate its developers some additional revenue. The app managed to get past Apple's approvals and make it into the store. It has since been withdrawn.
Including cryptocurrency miners with software products is an increasingly common trend. Developers are using the technique to help subsidise their apps, using the resources of their users' computers to generate revenue. Ars Technica discovered the popular Mac app Calendar 2 has recently added a cryptocurrency miner in what's thought to be the first example inside the Mac App Store.
Calendar 2's developers did take measures to prevent the miner from impacting on users. However, it seems various bugs in the code meant these failed to operate as intended when the update launched. The developer, Qbix, told Ars Technica that there was a "perfect storm" of issues which caused the miner to consume vast amounts of CPU power and run without the user's permission.
Qbix claimed the miner was never intended to start automatically. The company did disclose to users that the miner was included. The software was supposed to be enabled as part of a new payment option, which would allow unlimited access to Calendar 2's "premium" features in exchange for "unobtrusive" cryptocurrency mining. The premium features usually cost $17.99 to unlock, or $0.99 per month.
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Qbix later announced a change of heart and said it would be removing the cryptocurrency miner entirely. In what appears to be a U-turn on its original intentions, the company criticised proof-of-work blockchain tech as a "waste" of electricity with "dangerous" incentives. It claimed it "doesn't want to get sucked into" the current climate of mining.
"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," Qbix founder Gregory Magarshak said to Ars Technica. "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."
In another twist in the story, Calendar 2 has since been pulled from the Mac App Store. It's unclear whether Qbix or Apple was responsible for its withdrawal. Surprisingly, Apple has not responded to requests for comment on the situation and has not clarified whether Calendar 2 violated its guidelines. The app is yet to return to the store, with or without the miner.
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