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The new features mainly focus on improving Bitcoin Core’s default wallet, its integration with hardware wallets, and improving the way private keys are stored.
As the Bitcoin Core software infrastructure is currently undergoing a transitional phase while implementing high-end scalability solutions, developers are preparing for the 17th major software release. The upcoming software update will host a range of new features especially emphasizing improving the software’s default wallet and the storage of bitcoin private keys.
Introducing a New ‘Language’
Peter Wuille – the popular developer of the Bitcoin infrastructure known for important implementations like the Segregated Witness (SegWit) – has proposed the idea of implementing a new language with the next Bitcoin Core software upgrade. The basic purpose of this language introduction is to add additional information to the keys.
Andrew Chow, a Bitcoin Core contributor calls this a “sane” alternative to the earlier present “account” system. The language feature allows users to label their accounts with one being “savings” and the other as “donations”. Moreover, another significant advantage of introducingthe language is that it ensures that the information loss doesn’t take place regularly while moving the keys from one wallet to the other.
John Newbery, a chaincode engineer says that Wuille’s language feature has changed the way we think of wallet security, by introducing tags in the form of “label” to unlock the secret key.
Partially Signed Bitcoin Transactions (PSBT)
This is another important change arriving with the software upgrade. PSBT, as the name suggests, is a new format which allows transactions to pass through before being added to the network. In the long run, PSBT could prove to be a game changer, believes the Bitcoin Core developers.
Currently, hardware wallets like Trezor and Ledger are considered to be the safest way to store Bitcoins as they can be unlocked offline thereby protecting the keys against online thefts. However, one limitation of the hardware wallet is in terms of software engagement as they aren’t compatible with the different software. For e.g. Trezor only supports software wallet Electrum and not others like Bitcoin Core.
Users have found this to be a bit clumsy and annoying thing. However, BIP 174 standard provides a formidable solution while supporting different hardware wallets. The code is not yet out, but if in future hardware wallets adopt this standard, it will make it easy for users to connect to the Bitcoin Core software. In a word with CoinDesk, Andrew Chow said that Bitcoin Core will rather provide a much safer way to use Bitcoin instead of other third-party software wallets. He added:
“PSBT will enable Bitcoin Core to more easily support hardware wallets and have better offline, airgapped wallet setups. I’m actually working on hardware wallet support for Bitcoin Core by using PSBT. [SPV wallets] carry privacy and potentially security risks as they are trusting a third party to do the blockchain verification. Once Bitcoin Core supports hardware wallets, users can use Bitcoin Core instead, and because it is a full node, the user does not need to trust a third party that the everything has been verified correctly.”
Chow also said that the code change implementing PSBT will also give a boost to the Bitcoin privacy features and smart contracts. “PSBT also makes things like multisigs and CoinJoins easier to do,” Chow stated.
Dynamic Wallet Creation
This is one more important feature for which the developers of Bitcoin Core are pretty much excited about. Chow said:
“A few releases ago, we introduced the ability to use multiple wallets in Bitcoin Core. However, that required starting Bitcoin Core configured for multiple wallets. Now, we can load, unload, and create wallets when the software is already running.”
Additional features of the software update shall be available with the final release.