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May 30, 2014

Microsoft Launches File Manager for Windows Phone 8.1, Download Now

With a market share of around 3.5%, Windows Phone is the third mobile operating system in the world. Microsoft's platform still has a lot to catch up if the Redmond-based company wishes to challenge the number two spot, Apple's iOS.

Unfortunately, there are lots of missing features from Windows Phone, which the competition has for quite some time now. One such features lacking in Windows Phone is a decent file manager. Since Microsoft launched Windows Phone 7, users have been asking the company to release a file manager that would make browsing through the phone's files much easier. Well, it looks like Microsoft has finally listened to its fans and a few year after the initial launch of the Windows Phone platform, the company releases the long-awaited file manager. “We all encounter a number of files in our daily lives across the various devices we use. And often times we need ways to manage these files and share them with others – even on our phones. We’ve heard your feedback loud and clear that managing files needs to be easier to do on your Windows Phone,” says Microsoft in a blog post. Dubbed Files, the file manager has been teased by Microsoft's Joe Belfiore during a Reddit AMA earlier this month. Files is the official file manager for Windows Phone devices, so users will be able to download it for free.

The bad news is Files is only compatible with Windows Phone 8.1, which is not yet available for download. However, those who installed the Developer Preview build on their smartphones should be able to install Files as well. The new file manager allows users to access all the stored on the smartphone. In addition, if the smartphone also packs an SD card, users can take advantage of Files' features access files on the SD card as well. Moreover, Microsoft also confirmed users can now browse through files and folders, open and search for files that are on the smartphone or on SD card storage, as well as create new folders and arrange files across those folders using move and copy functions.

You can rename and delete any files in the smartphone and developers also added the ability to share one or many files on the smartphone with friends, family or work colleagues. The application will probably reach more users the moment Microsoft decided to release Windows Phone 8.1 for general public. Until then only early adopters will be able to take advantage of its features. You can now download Files for Windows Phone for free via Windows Phone Store. Keep in mind that the application is only compatible with devices powered by Windows Phone 8.1 and up.

Files for Windows Phone 8.1 (screenshots)
Image credits to Microsoft

Galaxy GeForce GTX 780 HOF 6GB with Huge Overclock Released

Normally, factory overclocks to graphics cards are of just a couple of dozen MHz or so, but occasionally, someone launches a product that goes a fair bit beyond that. Galaxy's latest Hall of Fame graphics adapter is an example of that.

The new video board is a version of NVIDIA's GeForce GTX 780, and is, obviously, called GTX 780 Hall of Fame, or HOF for short. You might know the GTX 780 from the time it was the second best video card. Now, though, it's just on the fourth spot in NVIDIA's lineup. Above it lie the GeForce GTX Titan Black, GeForce GTX 780 Ti and GeForce GTX Titan. And that's not counting the dual-GPU GTX Titan Z, or any other. The reference GeForce GTX 780 runs at 863 MHz on a normal day, but can jump to 928 MHz in a pinch. Those are the Base/Boost GPU frequencies as it were. The new one from Galaxy, however, has clocks of 1019 MHz and 1071 MHz, respectively. The better frequencies aren't the only advantage of the new adapter though. Having twice the regular amount of memory should definitely help as well.

You see, the GeForce GTX 780 usually makes do with 3 GB of GDDR5 VRAM, but the Galaxy GTX 780 Hall of Fame (HOF) has six. The frequency of the memory was left alone though, at 6 GHz, unlike that of the Kepler GK110 GPU. Speaking of which, the GPU has 2,304 CUDA cores, 192 TMUs (texture mapping units), 48 ROPs (raster operating units), and a 384-bit wide memory interface. Finally, the new video board benefits from a 10-phase VRM (voltage regulating module), dual-BIOS (a toggle switch at the I/O bracket lets you revert settings) and, of course, a custom cooler (dual 90mm fans, silver-grey shroud, direct-contact heat pipes and vapor chamber plate). The Galaxy GeForce GTX 780 Hall of Fame 6 GB video controller can connect to one or more monitors/TVs via dual-link DVI (two ports), DisplayPort and HDMI.

Unfortunately, the newcomer has not been given a price, but with the normal GTX 780 costing $500 - $600 / €500-€600, we can safely assume that the newcomer has a tag of around $700-$800 / €700-€800. Galaxy hasn't posted the product page for the newcomer yet, but for all the technical details, you can just drop by the GTX 780 HOF 3GB page, because the new one is identical save for double the memory amount.

Galaxy GeForce GTX 780 HOF 6GB
Image credits to Galaxy

iPhone 6 Back Cover with Apple Logo Cutout Leaked

With perhaps only days to go before we catch our first glimpse of the iPhone 6, a new photo is making the rounds showing what appears to be the first leaked rear shell featuring an actual Apple logo cutout. Other design particularities that stand out from this image include the radio windows and the circular LED Flash hole.

The launch date of the iPhone 6 is anybody’s guess. Some have argued that it should roll out sooner than in previous years so that people will stop calling it a sloth in the innovation department. Others are more conservative, saying that Tim Cook & Co. will stick to the traditional fall refresh cycle. “Unidentified supply-chain sources” cited by Reuters said August was the launch date. But one thing is almost fully confirmed: the design. Featuring a much slimmer profile, rounded corners, tapered edges and a bigger form factor to accommodate a larger screen, the iPhone 6 will look like a cross between iPod touch and iPhone 5. According to this photo leaked by MacFixit, Apple is sticking with the antenna windows on the back (the top and bottom stripes), and the LED flash will return to a circular design. The iPhone 5s part has a pill-shaped cutout for what is called a TrueTone Flash. It seems it hasn’t worked as intended and Apple may be going back to a regular LED Flash.

Probably the most notable aspect about this leak is the Apple logo cutout, a first for all iPhone 6 cases leaked so far. In all fairness, this could well be the final design of the iPhone 6. The case seems to be made from metal and covered with a thin plastic film for protection. Strangely, the case seems to be damaged. A defect is visible in the lower part of the case. Those are either puncture holes created by a sharp object that ran through the part, or impurities caught under plastic film as it was strapped over the case. This is reportedly the shell for the 4.7-inch iPhone 6. Later this year, an even bigger model is said to be rolling out, featuring a 5.5-inch display.

According to one rumor, Apple will charge an extra $100/€100 for this year’s model, as the bill of materials for the iPhone 6 is much higher than that of its predecessor. However, this rumor is unfounded and quite unlikely to materialize.

iPhone 6 back cover
Image credits to MacFixit

Japan Display Introduces 7-Inch WQXGA “WhiteMagic” Tablet Display

Japan Display is a name most of us are familiar with, as the company is famous for putting out mobile displays that pack impressive pixel densities and offer high resolution.

Their latest effort is targeted at the tablet space, as the panel maker has just pulled the veil off a new HD tablet display. The screens will rely on the “WhiteMagic” technology that has been designed to provide improved outdoor visibility and lower power consumption when one is using the device indoors, reports TechBlog. WhiteMagic is not exactly a newcomer to the world of tech. Back in 2012, Sony introduced the Xperia P smartphone, which arrived with a 4-inch screen that featured WhiteMagic. Now Japan Display is aiming for the larger display category, by offering the 7-inch prototype aimed for implementation into tablet products. The new display is a 7-incher that arrives with 2560 x 1600 pixel resolution and an impressive 431 ppi and 160 degree viewing angles.

The WhiteMagic technology makes use of red, green, blue and white subpixels, as opposed to the usual RGB which uses only red, green and blue. Compared to traditional displays, using this particular technique will provide the same level of brightness, but it will end up consuming lower amounts of energy. Furthermore, it allows the screen to be twice as bright in outdoor environments. Japan Display goes on to mention, the new screen is capable of better controlling the backlight than earlier iterations of the technology. According to them, WhiteMagic will provide up to 20% improvements in the power consumption department. For those curios to see how this new baby behaves in real life, Japan Display will be putting the new screen on display at the SID Display Week, an event scheduled to kickstart on June 1.

Nevertheless, even if we will get to see screen prototypes displayed into the wild, it will still be some time before tablet products bundling WhiteMagic tech will arrive on the market. Japan Display is made up of Sony, Toshiba and Hitachi, so we can expect to see the first 7-inch high-res devices with bright displays be rolled out under one of their banners. In related news, back in April, Japan Display announced it had developed a 10.1-inch LCD prototype for tablets, capable of supporting 2,840 x 2,160 pixels (4K2K). Like with the 7-inch screen outlined above, Japan Display makes an emphasis on low power consumption. The 4K display takes advantage of low-temperature poly silicone technology, so the slate can consume the lowest amounts of energy.

Japan Display launches WhiteMagic tablet display
Image credits to TechBlog

BBM for Android 2.2 Now Available for Download

BBM (BlackBerry Messenger) was launched on both Android and iOS platforms last year, but the instant messaging application did no come with all the features available in the corresponding client for BlackBerry operating system.

In the last couple of months, BlackBerry released several updates for BBM for Android/iOS, which added some of the missing features, as well as small improvements and bug fixes. Today, the Canadian company has announced that a new version of BBM should hit Android and iOS smartphones in the next couple of days. As a matter of fact, we have just captured the update, which means that the rollout is definitely happening faster than expected. If you expect the update to bring major features, like video calls, then you will be disappointed. However, we strongly suggest Android and iOS users who already have BBM installed on their devices to update to the latest version in order to benefit from all the improvements and bug fixes included. But first things first. According to BlackBerry, the latest update adds a much simpler sign up procedure for new BBM users: “One of the ways that we’ve done this is by simplifying the sign up process for BBM. 

We’ve cut down the number of fields it takes to get signed up, so you can start chatting and sharing even faster. Name. Email. Password. That’s all you need to get started on BBM! For those of you already on BBM today, this change won’t impact you at all,” explains BlackBerry’s Jeff Gadway in a blog post. Developers have also made it easier for BBM users to add new contacts through email. Basically, you will only need to click the link inside the BBM invitation received by email and it will be added to your contacts. There’s no need to send a PIN invite back anymore. BlackBerry has also confirmed that it has renamed the “Updates” tab “Feeds” and it has added 16 new emoticons, including a hotdog, maracas, hacker and hot lips.

Last but not least, lots of bug fixes and under the hood performance improvements have been added to the update as well for a much smoother BBM experience. The Canadian company has also confirmed that it will release a major update for BBM for BlackBerry in a couple of weeks, which will contain “many of the things we’ve talked about here…and a few special things added for good measure.” You can now download BBM for Android 2.2 for free via Google Play Store. The application should be fully compatible with all devices powered by Android 2.3.3 and up.

BBM for Android 2.2 (screenshots)
Image credits to BlackBerry

Z97 GAMING 9 AC Custom-Designed Motherboard by MSI for the Public

Once upon a time, “professional gamer” would have been a nonsensical phrase, but when there are actual game tournaments with lots of cash at stake, you can't really scoff in skepticism anymore. And you don't get to glance oddly at high-end motherboards either.

On that note, MSI has introduced the Z97 GAMING 9 AC “custom-designed motherboard.” The company didn't actually say what it means by “custom-designed,” but we suspect it has to do with the various surveys that IT companies periodically conduct via social networking websites. Anyway, you'd think that MSI would take the time to gush about the expansion capabilities, memory or networking features. What really happened in the press release was different. The company spent time lauding the Dragon Armor (smooth, cooling covers for the important PCB parts), the Wi-Fi AC & Bluetooth 4.0 with Intel WiDi support and, last but not least, the Xtreme Audio DAC. In fact, the audio technology saw the most attention. MSI made sure that no one would miss the relevance of the premium onboard sound card whose capabilities are on par with the best add-in audio cards.

We're looking at 120dB Signal-to-Noise-Ratio (SNR) 192kHz / 32-Bit, C-Media HD Audio Processor, Wolfson WM8741 DAC and Texas Instruments TPA6120A2 amplifier, plus a pair of TI OPA1652 amplifiers, 1 per channel. Professional headphones of up to 600 Ohms will be put through their paces (high-end headphones can have 250 Ohms or less, so that's impressive). You can fine all the info on the new, mighty motherboard on MSI's Z97 Gaming motherboard website. Only the price is still unknown.

Image credits to MSI

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