The team behind Ethereum has announced plans to release an updated version of the network in late September. Known as Metropolis, a new hard fork is set to bring a number of changes, including higher security and anonymity of the system.
This will be the second official update of the network, following the original Frontier version and the first hard fork, Homestead.
The upgrade has been anticipated since February when the developers first unveiled plans to release Metropolis in the Ethereum road map for 2017. Initially planned in August, the launch date was postponed because of the continued development and comes at the end of the developer’s projected time-frame for execution.
The new hard fork will enable significant improvements, including increased anonymity of transactions and easier programming. It will come with new zk-SNARKs or Zero-knowledge proofs, which will let Ethereum blockchain to carry out anonymous transactions at higher levels.
Besides, the new version will have an advanced security in the form of masking that will protect users against hacking attacks. With Metropolis, users will gain full control of their private keys and will be able to determine the address they have for the key using existing protocols.
The smart contract functionality will also be upgraded, increasing automation and reducing costs. Following the update, smart contracts will automatically settle fees, without the need to be approved by users.
The new version will include a “Difficulty Bomb” that will make it more difficult to mine ether, but according to the team the bomb will be delayed as network is entering its so-called ‘Ethereum Ice Age’ ahead of schedule.
According to the Ethereum team, it is currently unknown how the market will react to the changes, as the prices could either surge or decrease. Previously, updates have driven the prices, which then led to the growth in ether mining. Thus, a similar reaction could be expected next month.
Moreover, the improvements will likely boost consumer confidence in the network and increase the number of users, causing the growth in ether demand and value. Yet, the decline in mining reward to three ether per block could lead to a decrease in ether’s price.
Metropolis, however, is not the final Ethereum upgrade. The fourth hard fork, known as Serenity, is anticipated to introduce major changes as well, like proof-of-stake implementation, which is set to cause a rise in the price of the cryptocurrency. Still, the team has not yet announced the date for the next upgrade.