The release of Blockchain’s drastically improved Bitcoin wallet is one of the biggest announcements coming out of this weekend’s North American Bitcoin Conference in Chicago.
One of the main goals of the release is to simplify and remove the intimidation factor associated with Bitcoin, making Bitcoin “so easy to use that people don’t even have to think about addresses,” Blockchain co-founder and CEO Nicolas Cary told Romain Dillet of TechCrunch.
“We’re completely focused on creating simple and engaging experiences so we can go to web scale – supporting hundreds of millions of users.”
A particularly interesting new feature reported by TechCrunch is the ability to send bitcoins to anyone in your phone’s address book by simply tapping on their name. If that person isn’t already a Bitcoin user with a wallet, they will receive an e-mail with a redemption code allowing them to retrieve their new coins. How exactly this will be done has yet to be disclosed.
Another major feature is the inclusion of a fully verified, interactive Bitcoin merchant map. In a fashion similar to Yelp, users can view a map of nearby businesses who accept bitcoin. Also present are descriptions of what service the business provides along with a phone number, address, and website.
Because proper education and security are critical to using Bitcoin, especially on a vulnerable device like a smart phone, the update includes educational features designed to help users understand how to manage bitcoins. This includes tutorial videos, backup solutions, and advice on setting strong passwords and two-factor authentication.
Cary said that Blockchain is working on updates for other wallets too. “The Android wallet is the first update to our wallets. We’re bringing branding, design and feature parity to Chrome, Firefox, the website and the mobile apps,” said Cary. He told TechCrunch that a Blockchain app will be returning to the Apple store as soon as possible.
The company is also building an HTML5 wallet and have already built a pairing solution for credentials. Cary said that they completely reengineered the QR code reader to work in HTML5 and plan to open-source the code.
Blockchain, who currently hosts over 1.8 million Bitcoin wallets, said that users can send to and receive from a P2SH address within the wallet, and P2SH addresses can be added as ‘watch only’ addresses that funds can be sent to. Their CoinJoin implementation, Shared Coin, will be available in a future update.
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