Devcon4 Highlights: Serenity, Metamask Mobile, & the Reversible ICO

Devcon is the biggest event on the calendar for Ethereum developers and community members. Every year, blockchain developers, researchers, engineers, academics, designers, and community members assemble in the largest gathering of creative minds focused on the growth and development of the Ethereum ecosystem.

Devcon4, hosted at the Prague Congress Center in the crypto-friendly Czech Republic from October 30 to November 2, featured a heavy emphasis on the immediate future of the Ethereum network — specifically, the ongoing collaborative effort to deliver layer 2 solutions that will solve the ongoing scalability problem. Other standout announcements include a long-awaited sitrep on the second phase of the Ethereum roadmap and the reveal of MetaMask’s mobile client.

Devcon4 Brings Serenity to the Table

Devcon4 launched with a day one keynote from Ethereum co-founder Vitalik Buterin, who kicked off the event with the announcement of Serenity, the Ethereum scaling solution. Serenity, stated Buterin, is the culmination of four years of intensive development, presenting a new scaling solution that is “100% organic, genuine, pure Casper.”

The Serenity solution announced at Devcon4 will be implemented in four stages, beginning with the introduction of a new proof-of-stake based “beacon chain” that will exist in parallel to Ethereum in order to facilitate the participation of Casper validators. Phase one will be followed by a simplified launch of the Serenity that will feature shards as data chains. The second stage will introduce cross-shard communication, while the subsequent third and final stage will focus on tweaks and optimizations.

The Serenity keynote, interestingly, ended with a singalong led by songwriter Jonathan Mann and Buterin himself.

MetaMask Mobile Client Premiere

Since release, MetaMask — a highly popular browser extension that functions as a bridge between normal web browsers and the Ethereum blockchain — has been restricted to desktop users only through Chrome, Firefox and, more recently, Brave. Devcon4 saw ConsenSys co-founder and CEO Joseph Lublin announce the launch of the mobile MetaMask user interface, allowing smartphone users to interact with dApps, smart contracts, and Ethereum wallets.

Devcon4 also featured a range of keynotes focusing on state channels, with FunFair Technologies CTO Jeremy Longley delivering detailed insight into the “Lessons learned Implementing State Channels.” Day two of the event saw Raiden developer Lefteris Karapetsas provide an in-depth breakdown of the viability creating production-ready payment channel networks for Ethereum.

Day 3 of Devcon4 focused heavily on Plasma implementation, with a panel consisting of Eric Scrivner Jake Craige, and Pete Kim exploring the process of integrating Ethereum at scale followed by “Plasma Cash: Towards improved Plasma constructions“ led by Georgios Konstantopoulos.

In addition to a rapid-fire series of scalability improvement projects, Devcon4 also provided a platform for ERC-20 architect Fabian Vogelsteller to announce an improved initial coin offering model called the “RICO,” or Reversible ICO. Vogelsteller’s anti-scam RICO model would allow investors to recover their investment at any time, eliminating the threat presented by exit scams and ICO fraud.

The final day of Devcon4 included a keynote speech entitled “Decentralization Against Isolation” delivered by Microsoft Research New York City chief researcher Glen Weyl, emphasizing the importance of collective collaborative action in order to ensure the fundamental decentralization-focused axioms of blockchain technology are protected from corporate and government manipulation.

The announcement of Serenity’s impending implementation represents a significant milestone in the ongoing development of Ethereum, foreshadowing a dramatic scalability improvement.