The soft fork seeks to activate three BIPs: BIP68 sequence locks, BIP112 OP_CHECKSEQUENCEVERIFY and BIP113 Median time past, which together are known as the “csv” deployment. Signalling begins at midnight on May 1st, 2016.
CHECKSEQUENCEVERIFY, the invention of Mark Friedenbach, upgrades the Bitcoin scripting language so bitcoins can be “frozen” for a specific amount of time, starting from the first confirmation,. It enables a variety of complex bi-directional payment channel applications; for example, Lightning Network will rely heavily on this.
This release also debuts BIP9 “version bits”, the invention of Pieter Wuille, which allows up to 29 parallel soft fork deployments at the same time and will speed up the rate at which new features can be added to the protocol.
You can find more details in the release notes.
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Download the new release from https://bitcoin.org/bin/bitcoin-core-0.12.1/.
The Bitcoin Core Development Team