Review of Hive Web – A Bitcoin Multi-Currency Web Wallet

Journalist:
Neil Sardesai @@neilsardesai
June 29, 2014
Hive Web is a cross-platform, multi-currency wallet.

This isn’t the first time CCN has talked about Hive. A few months ago, CCN covered Hive’s gorgeous OS X app and interviewed one of the developers. The Hive team is known for prioritising usability and simplicity, which is highly important considering that most people still don’t entirely understand Bitcoin. While Hive has native clients for OS X and Android, it seems the developers wanted to streamline the entire experience by creating a cross-platform, multi-currency web wallet. Here’s my take on the team’s latest offering – Hive Web.

Simplicity

Hive Web is really simple, maybe even too simple. The account creation steps include getting a randomly-generated passphrase and setting up a 4-digit pin.

Hive Web generates a 12-word, case-sensitive passphrase for you. This passphrase cannot be changed or recovered if lost.

After that, you’re taken to a web interface that was obviously designed for mobile use.

Hive Web looks awkward on a desktop browser.
But it looks awesome on mobile.

Despite being a web app, Hive Web is incredibly snappy on my iPhone 5s and feels just like a native app. All the buttons and animations work smoothly, and I can add the web app to my Home screen to make it feel even more like a native app.

However, the team is still planning on a native iOS app.

“If Apple permits it, we’ll be there.”

Features

Hive Web only has the most basic of features – sending and receiving coins, which makes the app perfect for newcomers but not so much for cryptocurrency veterans. The “Receive” tab allows the user to generate a QR code to easily accept a payment. However, a QR code scanner isn’t included, so the only way to send coins is to either type in a long wallet address or use Waggle, a location-aware feature for transactions with other nearby Hive users (think of it like Bluetooth for bitcoin).

It took about a second for my phone to connect to a test account on another phone.

Waggle definitely works, and it’s really fast, but it ONLY works if the other person is also using Hive, which may not be the case. That’s why having a QR code scanner as a backup would be useful. However, depending on the device, getting camera access could be tricky since non-native apps typically aren’t given as much access to device hardware.

Hive Web is also a Hierarchical Deterministic (HD) wallet. HD wallets rely on a single seed (in this case, the 12-word passphrase) to generate wallet addresses. This is more convenient than having to keep track of private keys for each address and makes it easier to remain anonymous on the blockchain.

Finally, Hive Web is a multi-currency wallet. The app currently works with bitcoin and Litecoin, and support for Dogecoin and other currencies should be implemented in the future.

Final Thoughts

Hive Web is definitely one of the nicest looking wallets out there. Its smooth animations and clean UI make the app a joy to use. It’s also pretty safe. Passphrases are securely generated, and Hive does not store users’ private keys. If the service is unavailable, the user can enter his/her passphrase into any BIP32/BIP39-compatible client to gain access to his/her coins. Furthermore, the service is entirely open-source, so anyone can review Hive Web’s security and/or build upon the service.

However, Hive Web doesn’t include more advanced features such as detailed transaction logs, coin mixing, custom miner fees, etc., making the service more suitable for small, everyday transactions and newbies. Furthermore, the desktop view is just a scaled-up mobile view, which doesn’t look that great. But to be fair, Hive Web is only at version 0.1.4, so it’s safe to assume that there will be many improvements by the time version 1.0.0 is out. All in all, Hive Web is a great start and a much-needed way to bring cryptocurrency to the everyday person.

Last modified (UTC): July 2, 2014 11:36

Neil Sardesai @@neilsardesai

I enjoy keeping up with the latest stuff in science and technology and have been following Bitcoin for a few years now. I also occasionally post cool stuff on twitter.