Development of Darkwallet, headed off by Cody Wilson and Amir Taaki, has been delayed recently. The code is open source, the product is still unstable, it relies on the Google Chrome browser, and developers have yet to offer a mobile version. The Samourai wallet is designed to fill this need and give users greater control of their money. The Samourais explained:
“We are excited about Bitcoin and share Satoshi’s vision of what Bitcoin will achieve. Unfortunately we have seen a disturbing trend in the Bitcoin world. We are seeing the rise of centralized Bitcoin Banks. These Banks are just following the arbitrary regulations imposed by arbitrary men. We want to help build the tools that support Satoshis vision, the tools that always keep the user in control of their money, the tools that don’t ask for permission, the tools that operate outside of the machine.”
The Samourai wallet is currently only available for Android users. It has many different features that set it apart from other options. The wallet enforces a BIP 39 passphrase on creation. It uses military grade AES-256 encryption. The PIN code and a secret GUID is stored locally in a secure space on a device. It then queries the Bitcoin network, and asks for the unspent outputs for the addresses in the user's wallet.
The private keys are never communicated with the outside world. Another unique feature allows you erase the wallet or retrieve your HD seed off your phone from a remote location. The team has implemented other custom features, such as a LocalBitcoins price ticker. Meanwhile, the Samourai anonymization feature uses tricks with inputs and outputs of your own wallet that create transactions on the blockchain designed to confuse outsiders.
Alpha version 3.0 will be the last, and they Samourais say it is the “most exciting” release they have planned. It will introduce a mobile coin-shuffling feature, allowing you to chop up and shuffle coins right from your phone. The protocol is a trustless system, never using any third parties or servers. With stealth mode enabled, Samourai will hide itself from the Android display, mute all notifications, and remain hidden from the recent apps drawer.
The next major release will contain more fundamental privacy features like Tor and VPN support, a PIN screen that actively works to thwart spyware and keyloggers, and more UI enhancements. They said:
“We are actively looking at Tor support. VPN and Tor are not mutually exclusive and many users are not Tor-savvy but do know a bit more about VPN. Just as our remote commands are optional, we are working on network anonymity solutions that will appeal to a wide range.”
The samourai devs also hinted at a “top secret” development they think users are going to love and it should also be another first for a mobile bitcoin wallet, though they aren’t ready to reveal it yet.
Darkwallet still has certain features that Samourai doesn’t. For example, the coin-shuffling feature, a desktop client, and an open-source code viewable by the public. These features propelled the wallet to the number one spot in the recent Open Bitcoin Privacy Project (OBPP) review.
But while Samourai is being developed, its features will be rolled out slowly and in a staggered manner. The developers’ managed release allows the wallet to develop quickly and stick to timelines, something that Darkwallet hasn’t been so successful at. As for direct competition in the wallet arena, the developers say they are determined to be included in the next OBPP report. “We’ll let the experts decide just where we rank,” they said.
This week, CoinTelegraph was the first to hear about their new product, a stand-alone app called Sentinel. It is a read-only bitcoin wallet designed to track balances and transactions, and create new receive addresses for cold-storage HD wallets.
Sentinel, the creators say, doesn’t save your identity or your private keys. You simply scan an XPUB and Sentinel will keep watch. You can download the app from the Google Play store.
The Samourai wallet is still undergoing rigorous testing with help from their private Google+ group. The developers have not opened their source code yet and they say they will do so once they “conclude closed beta.” In the meantime, they remain focused on their overall mission, as they describe on their website:
"We are privacy activists who have dedicated our lives to creating the software that Silicon Valley will never build, the regulators will never allow, and the VCs will never invest in. We build the software that Bitcoin deserves."
In the short term, they want to be the best bitcoin wallet on the market, offering the most privacy and anonymity to transacting. In the long term, the goal is to be the one-stop shop with mainstream appeal. The Samourai wallet aims to be a counterweight to the well-funded but privacy-poor services that they believe dominate the current landscape.
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