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Why it took over 2 years for breadwallet to come to Android

Jul 21, 2016

Development on breadwallet began three years ago, with an App Store debut in June of 2014. It made waves in the bitcoin community as the first wallet for iOS that connected directly to the bitcoin network and didn’t rely on any servers. The full potential of bitcoin was finally being realized--you could now manage your own wealth without entrusting it to anyone else, and everything you needed was small enough to fit in your pocket. With the cleanest UI of all mobile wallets and the greatest ease-of-use, breadwallet quickly became the de facto wallet for introducing new users to bitcoin. Many thousands of users started their bitcoin journey with breadwallet and have remained as loyal users ever since.

There has always been great interest in an Android version of breadwallet. With a global market share that greatly outnumbers that of iOS, Android seems the obvious choice when trying to reach the largest number of users. Software startups all want to maximize the reach of their product, and we are no exception. However, we chose to specifically hold off on tackling Android and focus solely on iOS for one reason: security.

We are experiencing a financial revolution in the making, as monetary systems that have existed for ages meet futuristic, cutting-edge technology. As a part of this revolution, we are building the next generation of financial software, one that will change the way people think about and interact with money. Bitcoin has the power to move the focus away from banks and towards users themselves, enabling an entire generation to be in control of their own wealth without relying on a small, privileged group to dictate how they can use their money. With breadwallet, all you need to manage your wealth is stored in your own phone, and you are the only person that has any control over your funds. Period.

All revolutions bring a certain amount of chaos, and we are seeing both the good and the bad. Gone are the days of being protected by strong passwords and security questions; malware and viruses have evolved to bypass the usual protections and steal valuable information, and ransomware can render an entire hard drive unreadable. Every year literally millions of credit card numbers and online banking passwords are stolen by hackers. These are all growing pains of an evolving industry, misfortunes which can have devastating effects on consumers.

Keeping your money on a device you control and not on some corporation’s server is a great first step to protecting yourself from hackers, but this new technology can be a bit of a double-edged sword. If you eliminate the third party that gives permission for you to spend your funds, you also eliminate the third party that can tell the bad guys to give your money back when things go wrong. Bitcoin transactions are non-reversible, so if someone slips through your bitcoin wallet’s security they could send your money elsewhere--and once it’s gone, there is no way to get it back. It sounds scary, but we’re convinced the benefits far outweigh the dangers, and luckily there are ways to keep your data safe.

Apple has always been a little draconian about the eco-system they built for the iPhone, and there are benefits to a system in which one entity is in control of everything. All apps must be digitally signed before they are distributed, which means virus-ridden versions can’t make the rounds, and every app goes through a rigorous review, which prevents malicious or fraudulent apps from appearing in the App Store. More importantly, Apple gave developers access to the iPhone’s hardware-encrypted storage, which means private data can be locked down tight. What better way to keep your data safe than to store it in a chip on your phone, where no one can touch it but you? Hackers can’t steal what they can’t access.

From day one breadwallet has fully utilized all the security features Apple provides, to ensure no customer funds could ever be stolen from a breadwallet. And so far, they haven’t! We decided long ago to dedicate ourselves to providing the best security possible for our users, and want to continue our standard of “no customer funds stolen” with every product we produce. We would rather release no product at all than release one with less-than-maximum security.

This is why, despite great demand for an Android version of our app, we chose to wait until we could offer a product that meets our high standards. Android has always been a very open platform, which, while fostering great creativity and innovation, has traditionally resulted in lower security standards. Hardware-level encryption chips, like those found in iPhones, were not always available or supported which made for a poor user experience when trying to rely on them. Hardware-level encryption was our bare minimum for security, and was something Apple ensured and Android didn’t--until now.

Today we release breadwallet for Android. We’ve spent more than a year building it from the ground up, and now that Android 6.0 has been released, the resources we require to keep our users in control are finally available. Our software will only run on phones that can protect your funds on the hardware level, where viruses and malware can’t reach. Don’t worry if it sounds complicated--we’re the security experts so you don’t have to be, and we’re confident every breadwallet is secure enough to even store a million dollars or more.

If you have a device running Android 6.0 or higher, look us up in the Play Store. We’ll be waiting!

To download breadwallet for Android, visit the Google Play page here.

The source code has also been made public on Github: breadwallet/breadwallet-android.

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