Beam Development Status and Roadmap Update
Summer is upon us. It’s been about two months since our last development update, and we feel it is the right time to summarize what has been done so far and what is in the plans for the immediate future.
What we shipped
The last two months have been super busy for the team. During that period we shipped seven major releases: two releases of the Desktop wallet, two releases of the Android wallet and three releases of our beautiful iOS wallet. We now have a full suite of fully-functional Mainnet wallets for every major platform. A huge amount of work.
Here’s the condensed list of our Mainnet releases during that period:
The work was mostly concentrated on User experience, i.e. making Beam wallet as user-friendly as possible. Indeed, we can proudly say that our wallets present a consistently pleasant user experience across all PC and mobile platforms — Windows, Linux, MacOS, iOs, and Android, and are on par or better than most wallets in the industry.
Two features should be specifically noted: the fast node synchronization and Payment confirmation. Both were announced in the previous development status update, and are now available for Mainnet.
Fast node synchronization greatly decreases the time required to synchronize a node that was offline for a prolonged period of time. It is based on the concept of the Sparse Blocks, described in detail here.
The Payment Confirmation (aka Payment Proof) feature, as you might expect from its name, allows the sender of a transaction to prove to anyone that a transaction sending a specific amount of coins to a specific SBBS address actually occurred at a certain time. Beam being a confidential currency, there is, of course, no information on addresses or amounts in the blockchain, so this is very useful in case the receiving party denies that funds were actually received.
It should be noted that the payment proof can be validated not only by the sender or the receiver but by any other 3rd party (provided the sender shares the Payment Proof with them).
We also competed the integration with Coinpayments — a global crypto payment gateway. At the moment, over 20 merchants already receive Beam, and we are adding more every week. This is part of our effort aiming to turn Beam into the most used confidential crypto for we believe crypto adoption is key to realize the crypto dream.
One more thing that we worked at (initially as a side project) is Beam Anywhere. Beam Anywhere is a set of APIs that allows creating a link between Beam wallet addresses and user identities on external services and lets Beam Wallet receive payment requests from an external server. The payment is executed only after the user confirms it on the device. This allows sending money directly through messengers and chatbots, as well as other potential uses. In early May, we demoed a Telegram bot that makes it happen
The Tough Stuff
We planned to release the Atomic Swap and Trezor T integration by the end of May. While we made significant progress, we are still working on those tasks. Both will be released in several weeks as part of the last release in Bright Boson series, BB 2.3
The Atomic Swap functionality was already demoed by Alex Romanov, and the team is currently working on testing various scenarios. You can see the progress here. The first release will include CLI functionality only, with full UX version coming at a later stage
As to the hardware wallet, the team has already finished all the heavy lifting, including implementation of Bulletproofs.
One more thing that we originally planned to implement but had to delay is the ability to perform a full restore on the mobile. Doing this in a the same way as it is done in the Desktop wallet would require running a full node on the device, and that may be too heavy for smartphones at the moment. Instead, we will be performing a background download of blockchain state snapshot to the device, and use the snapshot to perform the restore operation. This functionality will likely be moved to Clear Cathode releases.
What is Planned for the Summer
In parallel with closing the last tasks of Bright Boson, we already started to lay the groundwork for the key features of the Clear Cathode version.
One of the key things that will happen is the change of PoW algorithm, the hard fork.
Our plan is to release the hard fork as a separate version without any additional functionality besides the core changes. We will release the code and binaries about a month before the actual PoW algorithm changes so that everyone has enough time to upgrade their systems. The PoW change will be executed at a certain block height that will be announced when the new code is released.
Additional releases in the Clear Cathode version will include the following key features:
- One-sided payments — i.e. ability to publish a set of pre-created UTXOs and an address and get payments without the need of the recipient wallet getting online.
- Lightning POC
- Multisig Support
We will also be doing tons of wallet improvements, a large part of it was requested by our customers during the survey we conducted in April, including translation to different languages. If you found our mobile and desktop wallet easy to use, wait for the next releases and see the even better polished and feature-rich.
Although we originally planned to release a bulletin board for Atomic Swaps, it is possible that this functionality will be delayed a bit. After we launch the basic Atomic Swap functionality, we will want to see how the community is using it and then decide on the best way to implement the marketplace. We expect to have a clearer view of that in July-August, and we will notify the community.
Extending the Roadmap — Confidential Assets
In the past several months we realized that it is time to think about opening up the Beam blockchain for more asset types. Back in October, Valdok published an article outlining the theory behind Confidential Assets.
It is now time to start putting them into use.
It is our deep belief that any transfer and holding of value requires confidentiality. Confidentiality is needed for crypto coins, stable coins, utility tokens, tokenized securities, even for crypto kitties. Our plan is to enable the issue of additional Beam Assets (or bAssets) on our blockchain.
To enable wide adoption, we will work in two directions:
- Bridges to Bitcoin, Ethereum and eventually other blockchains. Such Bridge will allow locking an asset on Ethereum and issuing a matching bAsset on Beam. The bAsset can then be traded between Beam wallets in full confidentiality
- bAsset Issuer, allowing a 3rd party to issue their own tokens on Beam blockchain. Such a token can represent any kind of value and have associated rules that will be enforced by the issuance server
At the moment we have some initial thoughts on the architecture of the Bridge and the Issuer, and we will be developing it in the coming months. This work is still early stage, so we cannot share any release plans as of yet. Stay tuned.
Our development team is doing an amazing job, shipping high-quality software at a great pace. As I wrote in the previous updates, software is very complex. Some things turn out to be more time consuming than originally planned, and new ideas (like Beam Anywhere) continuously emerge on the go. Some things just take more time, but eventually, we will implement what we planned and beyond.
We will continue that drive and will keep the community informed on our progress.
As always, we welcome your feedback and constructive critique.
Come discover Beam and join our community!
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