On February 26th, Bitcoin core’s development team released a new version of the software that makes bitcoin tick. Version 0.16.0, the first major update since September 2017 (when SegWit was new), comes tricked out with a number of shiny new bells and whistles.
Bitcoin Core 0.16.0 comes with full SegWit support, which allows for the creation of SegWit compatible addresses right from the User Interface. Core 0.15 allowed this too, but it was an option for more advanced users, with the new version it’s a default option.
Core 0.16.0 also features support for the Bech32 address format. Also known as ‘bc1’ addresses, Bech32 addresses make Bitcoin addresses shorter and simpler by giving them a distinctive new look and distinguish them further from Bitcoin Cash (BCH) addresses, which often share the familiar “1” format of traditional Bitcoin addresses which has caused a lot of confusion.
Wallets created with the latest version of Bitcoin Core will, by default, be hierarchical-deterministic (HD). This means a wallet created on version 0.16.0 cannot be downgraded to older versions of Core, and wallets created on an older version cannot be upgraded to the latest version of Core. It’s not clear if the lack of backward compatibility was done on purpose or not, or why.
Replace By Fee (RBF) for ‘stuck’ transactions is now also a default option. RBF allows users to re-send a transaction later with a higher fee, giving it priority should it be “stuck” with a fee that’s too low during periods of peak activity. Users can now check a box on the sending screen if they want to mark a transaction as “final”, this means that it can’t be changed by RBF at a later stage.
Users who want to upgrade should completely shut down any running version first and expect to wait for the chainstate database to convert to the newer version (if upgrading from version 0.15 0)
More info on the new 0.16.0 version of Bitcoin core open source software here.