Previously, the desktop app worked for bitcoin’s testnet, but this is the first time the app will work on the Bitcoin mainnet, meaning that users are able to use it to send and receive real money. It’s worth noting that the app is non-custodial meaning that users have control over their Bitcoin.
The blog post announcing the new app was written by Lightning Labs developers Tankred Hase and Valentine Wallace who explain:
“Driving this release is a complete commitment to scaling the principles that Bitcoin was built on: privacy, security, and self-determination. For that we need to go beyond custodial solutions and enthusiast guides and deliver a great user experience for everyone.”
There are other applications that work with real Bitcoin today such as Zap, Zeus and Bluewallet. But Lightning Labs, originally started by lightning’s creators, is perhaps the largest company to release a Bitcoin mainnet app so far.
In announcing the app, developers were quick to highlight that even though this is a mainnet app, it is still made for ‘advanced users’ who want to test out the budding technology. There’s still a big risk of losing money when sending it on what remains an unfinished technology.
Another big part of the release is that behind the scenes, the desktop incorporates a light client technology, Neutrino. This requires users to download much less of the Bitcoin blockchain in order to verify that the transactions are legit. So even though, other light client technologies do exist, Neautrino is more of private tech.
In the future, Lightning Labs is looking to release this kind of tech on mobile devices.
On top of this, the blog post explains that Lightning Las has plans to move into mobile devices too.
The authors of the post write:
“[The release] also represents an important stepping stone towards mobile while we continue to invest in performance and stability. We’re working as quickly as we can to get our mainnet iOS and Android apps out soon.”