Polkadot introduced parachains, a layer-1 blockchains that transcend the limitations of legacy networks by creating specialized and interconnected chains aimed to connect platforms, communities, and economies.
Use cases of the parachains are the following:
- Independent token economies - allowing to have their own tokens, fee structures, and economic ecosystems.
- Common good parachains - designed to benefit the whole Polkadot community, usually use Polkadot's own token: DOT.
- Bridge parachains - allow Polkadot parachains to connect to external networks like Bitcoin and Ethereum.
- Parachain hubs - provide a range of functionality to serve a broader community or use case, such as DeFi hubs.
- Smart contract parachains - platforms for building and hosting smart contract-based dApps and services, with support for Wasm-VM and/or EVM.
- Parathreads - Pay-as-you-go parachains for early-stage networks.
Polkadot also made available a browser extension available for Firefox and Chrome dedicated to managing accounts for Substrate-based chains, including Polkadot and Kusama. It can be downloaded from the official website Polkadot js (https://polkadot.js.org/