Weekend Roundup: Samsung Galaxy S4 grabs headlines, Infosec 2013 puts spotlight on cyber security, Apple Q1 performance detailed

Samsung Galaxy S4 grabs headlines ahead of release

It may seem like it’s been ages since Samsung’s official unveiling of the Galaxy S4 - a month-and-a-half can feel like a decade in smartphone years - but the handset will finally launch this weekend.

And if our review - and this report predicting it will sell 10 million units - is anything to go by, the device is likely to be yet another blockbuster smartphone from the south Korean mobile powerhouse. After giving it a spin, Sascha Segan awarded the S4 an impressive score of 9 out of 10, earning it ITProPortal’s coveted ‘Best Buy’ honour. Among other things, Sascha lauded its wealth of features, incredible speed and appealing size-to-display ratio. But we weren’t the only ones; our review round-up, which included the likes of Mashable and the Verge, suggests others were equally blown away by its performance.

Other details about the handset trickled down this week, too. Among other things, we found out that a ruggedised version of the Galaxy S4 will soon be available for those looking to get down and dirty; an early prototype allegedly looked more like a tweaked Xperia Z than the S3-like design Samsung eventually decided on; a cheeky look-alike handset, the HDC Galaxy S4, can be nabbed for $200 (£130); and Virgin Media customers will be able to get their hands on the smartphone for as little as £31 per month on a two-year contract and with a £99 upfront fee.

Infosec 2013 shines spotlight on cyber security

Cyber security has been one of the biggest issues plaguing the tech world over the past year. It’s no wonder, then, that Infosec 2013 was one of the most important editions in the event’s history. Our own Will Dalton was on the ground at Earls Court, reporting on the top security solutions and expert opinions.

The week kicked off with a keynote from government minister Chloe Smith, who said members of the UK cyber security industry can profit from the growing threats online, as their services will become more in-demand than ever before. “Cybercrime, ranging from IP theft, to cyber espionage, to online fraud, costs UK companies billions of pounds a year, and as businesses and governments put more of their operations online the scope for potential targets will continue to grow,” Smith warned.

Along those lines, AlienVault Labs director Jaime Blasco, whose work includes advising governments on emerging threats, warned that major industries must be prepared to protect themselves from the widening prospect of cyber war. “Specific industries such as energy, transportation, online banking” are more at risk than ever. “If these are hit it’s going to cause a lot of problems,” said Blasco.

But as the threat of digital attacks grows, more and more firms are boasting about their products’ security offerings. The security division of tech giant HP launched its new application-testing solution, HP WebInspect 10.0, and showed it off at Infosec. Designed to identify security vulnerabilities in web services and apps, WebInspect 10.0 enables organisations to put their solutions under rigorous technical examination and ensure their final product is stable and secure. HP claims WebInspect 10.0 can replicate real-world attacks, thus offering insight over how a solution would survive – or not – in the wild.

And on the mobile front, BlackBerry talked up the security of its new Q10 handset. Mike Brown, BlackBerry’s Vice President of Security Product Management and Research, said the company’s pedigree in business and security sets it apart from industry rivals, and that users on both the consumer and enterprise side of the fence continue to come to BlackBerry because of the assurance its tech offers.

“Security is a key part of designing our platform, and our customers expect that we are taking a serious and thoughtful approach to how we design our products and making sure security is in every single product we produce,” he said.

Amidst the trickle of quarterly earnings results of the past few weeks, Apple announced details of its Q1 performance this week, as the company faces plummeting share values and concerns over increased competition in the mobile market.

Apple runs down details of Q1 performance

Amidst the trickle of quarterly earnings results of the past few weeks, Apple announced details of its Q1 performance this week, as the company faces plummeting share values and concerns over increased competition in the mobile market.

Chief executive Tim Cook revealed that the company shipped 19.5 million iPads and 37.4 million iPhones in the first few months of the year, to the the tune of $9.5 billion (£6.2 billion) in profits.

Cook also made vague allusions to Apple's plans for the next few months. During the first quarter earnings call with analysts, Cook said that Apple is working on "amazing new hardware, software, and services that we can't wait to introduce this fall and throughout 2014," leading many to speculate that earlier reports of a summer release of a new iPhone may have been inaccurate.

However, Sascha Segan reminded us that an autumn product launch may not necessarily mean Apple doesn't have anything up its sleeves. "Don't take Cook's quote to mean that Apple is going to be napping for the next six months, or even that Apple is so hard at work on the iTV and iWatch that we won't hear from the company until autumn. I suspect that Apple's Worldwide Developer Conference this June will remind us what gadget freaks like to forget: Apple is a company that's all about platforms, not about products," he wrote.

Speaking of products, though, Cook dismissed the 'phablet' trend once again, saying rivals like Samsung have "made some significant trade-offs in many of these areas in order to ship a larger display," Cook said. "We would not ship a larger display iPhone while these trade-offs exist." Guess we'll just have to wait and see what the company pulls out of the bag.