Starting with the new update, members have access to an additional three character slots and an exclusive Daily Sale in the Depot. The new alert system is a process for introducing server-wide events. When an alert is triggered, players will have a limited amount of time to complete it. Everyone supporting the winning Empire will receive a bonus upon completion, and all players in range of the alert will get some nifty bonus XP. These alerts will primarily be activated during off-peak hours in order to stir up some excitement. Service ribbons are being introduced to reward dutiful soldiers; they can be earned for tasks like killing, healing, and reviving other players. Earning a ribbon will grant you up to 500 XP.
Of course, the update also introduces a heaping portion of balance changes, bug fixes, and other fun things.
[Edit: Updated to reflect the fact that the patch was released earlier this week.]