Originally slated for Dec. 1, 2020, Bitcoin Core version 0.21.0 is now available for download, and includes a handful of notable changes to Bitcoin’s primary software implementation. Most notably, Bitcoin now supports Tor’s latest address format, Taproot’s code is now live for testing and Bitcoin Core finally gets manual fee setting.
With bitcoin’s price pumping, these new features don’t grab headlines every day, but the improvements they make to the Bitcoin network’s privacy, tooling and complex transaction logic are building a stronger foundation as the cryptocurrency sees a new wave of investor interest.
Taproot is one step closer
The consensus rules for the highly anticipated Taproot upgrade, which will allow for more complex smart contracts using Schnorr signatures, have been slightly tweaked since they were merged into Bitcoin Core in October. Taproot is also now fully live on Bitcoin’s signet, a sandbox network for developers to test new software and upgrades before pushing them to Bitcoin’s mainnet.
With the code now ready for testing, developers can now test the feature before activation begins later this year.
Fees get a makeover
Another change some 3.5 years in the making, Bitcoin Core now allows its users to set manual fees which are denominated in satoshis (Bitcoin’s smallest unit) instead of in bitcoin. Before, Bitcoin Core relied on a fee estimator for transactions, and these fees were set by specifying a bitcoin amount (say, 0.00001 BTC) instead of satoshis (1000 sats).
Additionally, the new version supports privacy browser Tor’s V3 address. Before this update, Tor V3 addresses could not fit into the message data that Bitcoin nodes share to connect with each other. Core now has a new method to transport these addresses so that nodes can establish peer-to-peer connections through them, a necessary addition as Tor V2 address will no longer be functional by next year.