Hive (sometimes stylised as “hive”) is perhaps the most beautiful and user-friendly Bitcoin wallet to date. If Apple were to develop a Bitcoin wallet, it would probably look something like this (although it’s pretty unlikely that Apple would given its stance on Bitcoin apps). Recently, I had the pleasure of talking to Wendell Davis, one of the developers behind Hive. Here’s how our interview went:
CCN: So how did you first get into the Bitcoin scene?
Wendell: Actually I was a member of the Metzdowd crypto mailing list back when [Bitcoin] was originally announced. I saw the announcement there, and I’ve been following it ever since. To answer the question that probably popped into your head right away: No, I didn’t have the foresight or faith to do any mining. In fact I did not acquire my first Bitcoin until late 2010. Whoops!
CCN: What prompted you and your team to develop Hive? There are already several multi-platform wallets such as Bitcoin-QT and Electrum. Does Hive offer (or plan to offer) anything substantially different from the other popular wallet apps?
Wendell: The original impetus came from my own father, who was interested in getting some Bitcoin: At the time, the perceived wisdom was that web wallets were inherently insecure; I didn’t want him taking any big risks. But, on the other hand, my father was by no means a computer expert, and most of the desktop wallets had GUIs that I couldn’t imagine him easily comprehending. So, Hive was born from that dilemma. My father had a Mac, and the Mac had no wallets with well thought-out, easy to use user interfaces. After that we included a kind of “Bitcoin app store” on top of it, making it easy for users not only to manage their Bitcoin, but also to discover great merchants, games, and exchanges. You can say that this is our “secret sauce”: Good user interface design, and discovery.
CCN: On Bitcointalk, you stated, “Hive was designed to be easy to use, and aims to be an ideal starting point for anyone new to Bitcoin.” However, many people would argue that Blockchain.info is the easiest-to-use Bitcoin wallet since it’s online. Would you say Hive is in competition with services like Blockchain?
Wendell: I suppose we are ostensibly in competition at this point, but the game of wallet innovation is really just beginning, and I see us differentiating more and more as we grow up respectively. Blockchain is a wonderful product that really did wonders to change public perception about online wallets, but neither Blockchain nor Hive (nor Coinbase, for that matter) are the final word on wallets in my opinion.
CCN: Why is Hive OSX-only? Are there plans to support Windows and Linux? How about mobile operating systems?
Wendell: It’s not OS X only, but that was our starting platform for the reason stated above. In fact we are working on an Android version right now. You can see the post about that here:
As for Windows and Linux, we have no plans and won’t have until we find a philosophically aligned developer who wants to take it on. We’re still looking!
CCN: What’s the story behind the name “Hive”?
Wendell: Originally the logo design was very much more a Hive, and there were “Bs” flying around it. Yes, those kinds of Bs. The tagline was “A home for your money”. Interestingly enough, at the North American Bitcoin Conference, we met David Whitlock from honeyforbitcoin.com, and it turns out he had the exact same idea.
CCN: How secure is Hive?
Wendell: We think that it is about equally secure as something like MultiBit, a leading desktop wallet. MultiBit has quite a bit of lead time on us in terms of having been deployed to hundreds of thousands of users already, but we’re working every day to improve our wallet security.
CCN: Are there plans to support other currencies such as Litecoin?
Wendell: Yes, you can expect support for Litecoin at some point in the future, thanks to Hank’s work on litecoinj.
CCN: Can you list some new features we can expect in the near future?
Wendell: Sure. Right now we are working on implementing BIP32 deterministic wallet support, and we have preliminary QR code support not built into test builds of the OS X release. We’ll also be including more backup options and of course a variety of new apps.
If you’re a Mac user in need of an easy-to use Bitcoin wallet, definitely check out Hive. Good design goes a long way in terms of functionality.