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23 Dec 12 Samsung Galaxy S4: all you want to know

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London: There are a lot of things coming for smarphone enthusiasts from the arrival of the world’s first 8-core handset – the ZTE Apache, apparently – to the fate of perpetually beleaguered Canadian manufacturer RIM and its forthcoming BlackBerry 10 platform in 2013 but the most awaiting thing is Samsung Galaxy S4, the successor of the South Korean firm’s Galaxy S3.

The Galaxy S3, first released in May 2012, is well into its life-cycle, so it’s only natural that S4 rumours are becoming more and more substantive by the day.

Flexible display:

The Samsung Galaxy S4 and Galaxy Note 3 would have a flexible OLED 1080p HD displays, rumour says.

“Foldable, rollable, wearable and more, [and] will allow for a high degree of durability through their use of a plastic substrate that is thinner, lighter and more flexible than… conventional LCD technology,” a preventative of the South Korean firm explained to PC Advisor.

Several release date rumuors for the S4 have been published, but the representatives of the South Korean firm have denied the veracity of all rumuors.

However, sparking speculation, Samsung has revealed the dates for its annual Forum and promised “major announcements”.

Specification (rumours) :

The Korea TImes claims to have been made privy to a substantial Galaxy S4 specification leak, which say a 5 inch device sporting an impressive 1,920 x 1,080 pixel ‘Super LCD 3′ display at a mind-boggling 445 ppi, coated with Corning Gorilla Glass 2.

Further speculations about the Galaxy S4 are the smartphone will use the 13MP sensor, 2GB RAM and a quad-core processor Cortex-A15 processor clocked at 2GHz.

Hint from Samsung:

An official has told Korea Times reported on condition of anonymity, “Samsung is ready to unveil the next Galaxy smartphone, the Galaxy S4, at early next year’s mobile world congress (MWC) in the Spanish city of Barcelona.”

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06 May 12 How Long Until Samsung Forks Android For The Galaxy Smartphone Range?

Samsung Logo Suomi: Samsungin logo

Samsung logo (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve not been through Samsung’s presentation of the Galaxy S III at Earls Court with a forensic filter, but one thing that struck me was the absence of Google from their presentation. By concentrating hard I picked up mentions of Android, but on the software front the dominance belonged to the ‘S’ suite of applications that Samsung describes as bringing intelligence to the technological flagship.

Which is probably the only sensible long-term approach to marketing the Galaxy brand. The S III’s tech specs are only inches ahead of the competition and I could probably make a good argument that the HTC One X is a better hardware platform that the S III.  Samsung  is the leading smartphone manufacturer in terms of  market share and there is no need to sell the handsets with the promise of compatiblity with Google’s Android ecosystem. The goal is to pull away from the crowd and stand alone.

Does Samsung need Google?

I think it’s fair to say Android is needed, because I don’t think the alternatives – Bada, Windows Phone, or Intel’s Meltimi – are a good fit for Samsung’s current market position. That doesn’t mean Samsung need Google, Samsung needs to be in control of Samsung’s destiny as I discussed last week. That means control of the smartphone’s operating system. Not just access to the changes, but total control.

Samsung should fork Android.

Samsung should take the Ice Cream Sandwich code base and follow the path blazed by the Kindle Fire; using TouchWiz user interface to maintain continuity; and the ‘S’ apps to  form part of the core operating system; while continuing to work on the software services and cloud support to replicate Google’s services so any transition for the majority of the Galaxy users would be seamless.

And Samsung should be working on this right now to take on the next waves of smartphones due up at the end of the year. A mythical iPhone 5 is likely to blow the Galaxy S III out the water, HTC is swinging hard to reach the perimeter, and Windows 8 could have a noticeable impact on the whole mobile consumer electronics space.

Samsung is one of the leading players in the smartphone world. It’s time to grow up and own the hardware and software that is vital to the continued success of the Galaxy range. And that means putting some distance between the South Korean company and Google.

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02 May 12 Android Apps Slurp Excessive Data

10 Ways To Get More From Your Android Device
(click image for larger view and for slideshow)

More than one-third of Android apps request “excessive permissions,” giving them access to more data than they require.

That finding comes from a study conducted by South Korean antivirus vendor AhnLab, which scanned 178 “best rated” Android applications using its cloud-based Android security scanning service.

All told, of the apps scanned, AhnLab found that 43% requested excessive device information, 39% requested unusual levels of location information, 33% requested excessive access to personal information, and 8% wanted excessive information about service plans.

[ Google's StreetView put data collection above people's security. See Google Wardriving: How Engineering Trumped Privacy. ]

According to HoWoong Lee, director of the AhnLab Security E-Response Center, mobile applications that access excessive amounts of data are a concern because they may have access to banking data and personal emails, or be able to retrieve information that would allow attackers to clone smartphones or sign up mobile subscribers for premium services. Some apps, meanwhile, not only access but also store this sensitive information, oftentimes in unencrypted form. Furthermore, users may not notice any malware that targets sensitive stored information running in the background, surreptitiously siphoning away stored data.

But having legitimate applications access more data than they require would appear to be quite common. That goes not just for legitimate Android apps, as well as malware, but also for iOS apps.

Many social networking applications, including Path and Hipster, were called out earlier this year over revelations that they sent unencrypted copies of iOS users’ address books back to their servers. While the developers behind Path defended the practice as a way of helping them connect users who already knew each other, the resulting outcry led the app developer to make the address book sharing “opt in.”

Apple likewise weighed in, saying that slurping people’s contact information without their permissions would be against its development guidelines. Apple apparently hadn’t been testing iOS apps for such behavior as part of its App Store review process.

Not long after, Twitter, Yelp, and Foursquare also came clean, saying that they likewise transmitted users’ contact information whenever people selected features with labels such as “find friends.” But such information was often stored in unencrypted format, again creating an information security risk.

Apps running on Android or iOS that request, store, or share excessive amounts of information add to already pervasive business concerns over the security of mobile handsets. So, what can be done to address the problem?

One solution for businesses is application whitelisting, which means ensuring that any Android device that wants to connect to the corporate network runs only approved apps. While the practice is controversial, many security experts see it as the best solution for keeping malware and untrusted apps–such as those requesting excessive data access rights–off of Android handsets.

Put an end to insider theft and accidental data disclosure with network and host controls–and don’t forget to keep employees on their toes. Also in the new, all-digital Stop Data Leaks issue of Dark Reading: Why security must be everyone’s concern, and lessons learned from the Global Payments breach. (Free registration required.)

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