At Breaking Bitcoin 2019 we announced the Beta program of our latest hardware wallet, the BitBox02. Our main goal was to receive direct, honest feedback focused primarily on the user experience.

Three months later and the results are in. 286 of you participated across 70 countries. Thank you for the time you invested. We are grateful for your passion and dedication to the BitBox. Although some of us compete with each other, as a community we all want as many good products and services as possible and we welcome your help. So we’d like to share what you taught us.

Beta program set up

We received 529 applications and selected 286 for the beta program. We asked you why you wanted to test the device, as well as some basic background information such as when you first heard about Bitcoin or whether you had used a hardware wallet before or not. This helped us onboard users who have different level of expertise in the crypto space. While many of you are crypto natives with strong technical knowledge, we wanted to make sure we also included less technical users and the “crypto curious”. 69% of you already own a hardware wallet, 52% a BitBox01. We also tried to balance the geographical distribution beyond our usual markets to include countries such as Uzbekistan, Zimbabwe, Malawi, and Iran.

We shipped the first batch of beta BitBox02 devices on Jun 17th, and three batches followed over the next four weeks. The BitBox02 beta devices were fully functional but not feature complete. For example, they didn’t support U2F and BIP39 mnemonic seeds initially, and some features will only be available at launch.

We received detailed feedback both via our feedback form, as well as emails, twitter messages, video reviews and a few UI bug reports.

The good: BitBox02 hardware design, screen, and USB-C. The BitBoxApp.

70% gave your overall experience with the BitBox02 as positive. You would use the BitBox02 as your main hardware wallet, either in the format it was at the time of the review, or with some usability improvements and knowing that more feature releases were in the pipeline.

You appreciated the device shape and form.

“It doesn’t LOOK like a hardware wallet, which might come in handy.”

The screen also received positive comments, together with the USB-C connector and the accessories that we include in the packaging.

“I like the screen, it’s clear and a good size.”
“I like the USB-C connector and the fact I don’t need a cable to hook it up.”
“The branded accessories are beautiful too.”

Honorable mention: the BitBox App. When users interact with a BitBox02, they do so via our native desktop app. Even if the focus of the feedback was the new hardware wallet, our app plays a big role in the user experience. 87% rated the app very positively.

“I like the app personally, I think it embodies the sleek, minimalist Swiss style that Shift is going for. It is simple, intuitive and doesn’t overload you with information.”

The bad: microSD card slot and password input

It’s hard to build a hardware wallet that is secure, minimal and easy to use, so we always expected some pain points. Happily we’ve fixed most issues before launch. The two biggest flaws you highlighted that took some time to fix were:

MicroSD card slot isn’t easy to use
The microSD lock mechanism proved tricky. For some it wasn’t clear that the card needed to be inserted all the way until it clicked. Others reported that removing the microSD card wasn’t easy and they had the impression the card was stuck.

“SD Card slot is not working very well. Card gets stuck, spring does not work properly.”

Entering device password
The original slider-based password entry was tricky and error prone. You said it biases our users towards simple passwords, for example, a password made of only letters at the beginning of the alphabet. The limit on the length of the password, wasn’t clear to some of you either.

“Scrolling the alphabets using the slider IMO is bad UX, its particularly difficult to select characters with good precision.”

The fix: new microSD card slot and ‘trinary’ input

The new microSD card slot
Due to a particularity about the physical microSD slot in beta devices, the microSD card can catch and feel locked if the card is angled or positioned towards the right side of the slot.

We replaced the microSD slot with a more suitable slot mechanism. Problem solved.

Revamped password input keyboard
We removed the maximum 9-character password limit and a new v3.0.0 firmware beta release has a new password input that we are calling “trinary” input. Characters display in 3 groups. You choose by tapping the group which then opens up the next option as you can see below. Turns out our Head of Engineering is also a good hand model!

We like this solution much better than our original one and you’ve responded positively to these improvements. Thank you for your input. We intend to continually upgrade this functionality through firmware updates even after the hardware has shipped.

“Yesterday I’ve updated my beta BitBox02 firmware to v3.0.0 natively on Linux (love how it just works) and tried the new input method: soooo much faster, now I will be able to add other chars instead of just numbers because it’s much easier.”

Some additional features that we released recently or that will be part of the launch version of BitBox02 include:

  • Importing and exporting BIP39 mnemonics. We added the ability to both show the BIP39 mnemonic, as well as import a seed from a 12, 18 or 24 word English mnemonic.
  • Factory reset the device from the settings page in the BitBox App.
  • FIDO-compliant U2F support so you can securely log into websites using the BitBox02 as a second factor.
  • Litecoin, ETH and ERC20: BitBox02 already supports Litecoin natively in our desktop app and we plan to do the same for ETH and ERC20. This feature will be available in beta mode at launch.
  • The BitBox02 comes with a USB-C connector: we made this choice so you’ll be able to plug the device into mobile. Android support is coming to the app soon.

What’s next

Well, we learned a lot. From basic logistics to managing negative feedback. Our most valuable learning was that you, the user, needs to continue to be at the heart of our product development. We want to continue to improve how we deliver simple usability.

We plan to ship the BitBox02 by the end of September. We listened to you about the Bitcoin only edition. We will be shipping the BitBox02 Bitcoin only edition at the same time. Our last week of pre-order discounts are available on our website and from our resellers around the world.

Thank you again to all of you who registered to be a beta user and to those of you who provided such valuable feedback. Your support is vital to us.

Douglas, Jonas & the Shift Team

Don’t own a BitBox yet?

The BitBox02 comes in two editions: the Multi edition that supports multiple crypto assets and can be used as a second-factor authenticator. And the Bitcoin-only edition, which features a radically focused firmware: less code means less attack surface which further improves your security when only storing Bitcoin.

Grab one in our shop!

Shift Crypto is a privately held company based in Zurich, Switzerland. Our international team of specialists across engineering, cryptosecurity and Bitcoin core development build the BitBox products and provide consulting services. The BitBox02, a second generation hardware wallet, equips individuals to easily store, protect, and transact cryptocurrencies. Its companion, the BitBoxApp, provides an all-in-one solution to securely manage your digital assets with ease.