We’ve been following the saga of this peer-to-peer cryptocurrency for a while now. Bitcoins have found themselves in the media recently, and had their share of ups-and-downs, adoption as a currency has been low in real world marketplaces. That said, the key to retail markets embracing bitcoins isn’t just going to be showing an interest and stability as a currency but also an availability in commerce.
Making the first step to that availability is an Android App written by Brian Armstrong and available here on the Android Market. The project is fully open source and also available on GitHub, released under the Apache V2 license so developers who want to know its safe can pour over it and fix bugs. It has a nice stable of features and expects to develop into quite a few more.
Currently the app combines a fully functional bitcoin wallet—sending, receiving, and transferring bitcoins across the network—with the capability to use QR codes to initiate transactions (and it can even generate QR codes as well), and it even backs up your wallet to the cloud using your Google account just in case you lose your phone. The sync with the Google account is quite interesting, no news on if it fully encrypts the synced wallet or not, seeing that’s how bitcoin-grabbing malware steals people’s wallets. Who knows, perhaps the next Android malware will also look on smartphones for people’s money.
A warning to early adopters, this software is still in development.
“Note that this app is still under development and may lose your coins!” cautions the developer on the GitHub page. “Test it with small amounts.”
With the currency recovering nicely from the MtGox hacks and the exchange maturing, we might see it begin to proliferate further with all this media attention. Even if organizations like the EFF have chosen to leave bitcoins in the dust, the development of an Android app should spur further interest.
As for innovating and pushing bitcoin into the public consciousness this will be hugely helpful. It will enable and facilitate on-the-go transactions using the cryptocurrency where two parties both have this software installed on their phones. Although what this brings to mind instead is the science fiction motif of two dark-clad figures skulking next to a building during a windstorm, pressing datapads together and waiting for a transaction to complete before handing over a wrapped package with secret technology. Really, chances are we might see this initially being used at geek conventions to pay for comic books and kitch.
It may not be in the to-do list, but this sort of software would also benefit hugely from Near-Field Communication integration. Just tap and go bitcoin transfer!
Right now, bitcoin is a little bit too slow to pay for coffee at the corner store. It can take minutes for a transfer to fully complete and get acknowledged by enough nodes to go through. Having a Bitcoin Wallet on a smartphone is an excellent step towards allowing people to transfer the currency away from their computers; but there might been a stand off needed to speed up the transaction process. Hopefully the application constantly keeps itself updated (or perhaps there will be a cloud-based service that can quickly acknowledge transfers.) Or maybe bitcoin will be connected to a social reputation service that pre-acknowledges based on cryptographic key signing and escrow allowing both parties to part ways before the transaction is golden based on the likelihood that it’s going to be good in a few minutes.
We’ll see where this one takes us.
[Link, via The Next Web]