Kim Dotcom's 'Mega' storage service dumps its beta tag, picks up some new features

Almost a year after its debut, Mega.co.nz is still standing.

With nary a law enforcement raid blemishing its record, Mega recently announced it was out of its beta phase, and to celebrate, it gave the service a fresh coat of paint. The latest file sharing and storage service from embattled Megaupload founder Kim Dotcom is also promising some big new features in the coming months.

Mega refresh

The new-look Mega dashboard. (Click to enlarge.)

The basic structure of Mega is still the same. You have a navigation panel on the left, a main viewing area to check out files, and buttons above the main viewing area for common tasks such as file uploads and new folders.

At the top of the navigation panel, however, you now have quick links to the trash folder (called the Rubbish bin in Mega's ye olde English), contacts, and your inbox to receive new files from other Mega users.

Mega says the overall user experience is speedier, and avatars are now on the menu, allowing you to add an image to your account profile.

There's also a new Firefox extension that Mega says will improve your security and download performance by writing data to your hard drive instead of relying on the browser. This feature lets you download whole folder structures at once.

The download page for Mega's new Firefox extension.

In my tests, however, the Firefox extension could only keep a single directory structure intact. In other words, if you have a Documents folder that contains three different folders, all folders and their contents will be downloaded separately. So instead of Documents>Folder1, Folder2, Folder3, you end up with Documents, Folder1, Folder2, Folder3.

Mega's Firefox extension follows a similar Chrome app released in July. At this writing, the Firefox add-on was not available directly from Mozilla's catalog. Instead, login to your Mega account, and select the Menu icon in the upper right corner of your Mega dashboard. Next, select Apps>Firefox App to install.

Desktop sync and iOS app

The encrypted file sharer's New Zealand-based paradise also has plans to roll out an iOS app and a desktop sync client by the end of November. The desktop sync client will allow you to stay connected to Mega without the hassle of opening up a browser window.

Mega's Desktop Sync for Windows slated to roll out before the end of November. (Click to enlarge.)

It's not clear if Mega will use a Dropbox-style folder that you just drag-and-drop items into, or if it will act as a connected drive similar to Wuala. In the early days of Mega's roll out, the company said it would use the latter.

Early 2014: Encrypted everything

Mega also wants to release two long-promised features in the opening months of 2014: encrypted email messaging and encrypted real-time messaging.

Dotcom has said several times that he wants to turn Mega into a complete encrypted cloud service. In August, Dotcom promised messaging and chat would be coming following the revelations from National Security Agency leaker Edward Snowden.

A mock-up of Mega's upcoming messaging feature. (Click to enlarge.)

There's little information about what the new two new services will be like. Based on mock-ups Mega released, it looks like the encrypted mail service will be an internal messaging service built into the current version of Mega. Right now, you can only send files to Mega users; messaging isn't supported.

The chat feature, again based on mock-ups, will be built into the web version of Mega and will support text and video chats. There didn't appear to be a Skype-esque voice-only option, but that could change once the product goes from concept art to actual product.

While Dotcom is busy building Mega, the extradition case against him is currently on hold. The trial is expected to get underway once again in April. The U.S. is asking New Zealand to extradite Dotcom stateside where he would face charges of criminal copyright infringement over Megaupload.

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