There’s a lot of buzz surrounding Bitcoin’s upcoming software update, and it’s easy to see why Bitcoin, with or without user-friendly plugins, can be an absolute horror show to use.
But there’s hope on the horizon, and it’s coming in the way of their 17th major software release.
Bitcoin Core has been doing a solid job of late, and it seems they’re still at it. Just a few months ago, their very own developer, Cory Fields, discovered a vulnerability, not on their blockchain but their rivals’ Bitcoin Cash, and was nice enough to disclose the security flaw.
Acts like such and the fact that the team’s implementation of the software is by far the most popular to date makes users excited about updates, and this time there is something to anticipate.
This latest update will feature a new language developed by Pieter Wuille, a developer credited with some of the blockchain’s most revolutionary changes including the acclaimed Segregated Witness feature, which did a great deal to alleviate Bitcoin’s scalability problems.
Bitcoin Core developer Andrew Chow describes the language as a solution to Bitcoin’s account labeling problem as well as a medium to add more information to both public and private keys.
What this means is that users will now be able to label their accounts (“Savings,” “Main Account,” etc.) for further convenience.
Another problem the language seeks to solve is the transfer of keys from wallet to wallet, which is currently plagued by a loss of information that occurs when keys are moved.
What’s usually lost in this process are instructions on how to unlock the coins to send to other people. Though this isn’t a significant issue for most Bitcoin transactions where the owner of the coins is only required to provide their private key once, multi-signature transactions pose a bigger problem.
The language aims to solve this problem by adding information on how each key can be unlocked, thereby preventing the loss of crucial information during transactions.
It will especially benefit the new Lightning Transactions, the fastest and most scalable transaction type on the blockchain.
Tagging each key with information about how they can be unlocked will undoubtedly resolve some problems with the blockchain, noted Chaincode engineer John Newbery in a recent presentation, adding that Wuille’s new language will change how we perceive digital wallets.
Developers say that the first rollout is merely an introduction and that the language will slowly but firmly be integrated into the blockchain in future updates.
Partially Signed Bitcoin Transactions (PSBT)
PSBT will be another feature to be added in later updates aided by the new language. This new format of transactions will allow users to download transactions that aren’t fully signed into hardware wallets, making it possible for them to pass it around before it can be finalized.
As useful as hardware wallets have been—they provide safe and secure offline storage for digital currencies—they all suffer a fatal flaw: a persistent incompatibility with software wallets.
These compact mechanical storage devices may make it easy to carry around your digital currency without fear of ever having them stolen from under your nose, but they are also known to fall short when interacting with different software wallets.
Some, like Trezor, only support specific wallets, and in this case, it’s Electrum. Anyone with a Bitcoin Core account will have to turn to wallets such as BIP174, which isn’t locked to a specific wallet.
Another problem experts anticipate is the adoption of PSBT by hardware wallets who, despite reacting positively to the announcement, may take time to implement it.
Chow notes that PSBT will make using the Bitcoin Core wallet a much more pleasant experience especially when linking it to a hardware wallet.
He says the Bitcoin Core wallet is a much safer option for anyone using the digital currency. That’s because Bitcoin Core is a full node and so the need for third-parties will be non-existent. That is more that can be said about SPV wallets.
The update will do more than introduce the mentioned features, says Chow, who believes that it could even potentially boost the privacy around Smart Contracts as well.