Simon Rockman

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Mobile and Motoring Correspondent. The former editor of Amstrad User, Amiga Computing, Personal Computer World, What Mobile and a number of other blast-from-the-past titles, Simon has worked for Motorola, Sony Ericsson and the GSMA. He has great contacts in the mobile industry, where his specialities are phones for seniors and mobile payments. He also covers Bitcoin and 3D printing. Simon regularly reviews the latest and most interesting cars for The Register as the Vulture behind the wheel.
Ferrari from the driving seat

Testing CarPlay with Apple’s most expensive ever accessory

Vulture at the Wheel Apple’s CarPlay – which we got the chance to test with the ultimate iPhone accessory, a £200,000 Ferrari California T – is fighting a standards conflict against Google’s Android Auto, in what seems to be a replica of the war between Android and iOS. There will be a separate review of the car later, but for the moment it’s …
Simon Rockman, 03 Oct 2015

Apple files patent for long-rumoured iRing-type bling

The long-rumoured iRing might not be a myth after all. Apple has just applied for a patent on "Devices and Methods for a Ring Computing Device". The iRing does for the Apple Watch what the Apple Watch does for the iPhone. The next step must be smart earrings, which were a 2000 vision from Orange. Image from iring Apple patent …
Simon Rockman, 02 Oct 2015

WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Caption Competition The witticisms keep flooding in for our biblical-looking chap, who provided "divine" inspiration for a great collection of captions from readers. All the entries were given a chance at winning the Western Digital Black 6TB hard drive that’s up for grabs. There were quite a few regular contributors in the top 10. Here is the …
Simon Rockman, 02 Oct 2015

Ofcom: Ahem, about that 28GHz spectrum. Let's talk fees

Having found that it can charge more than it used to for mobile spectrum, Ofcom is planning the same trick for 28GHz Broadband Fixed Wireless Access. The pricing model radio spectrum charges used to be called AIP (administered incentive pricing), which covered Ofcom’s cost of administering the spectrum. But then Ofcom hit …
Simon Rockman, 02 Oct 2015
processor chip-off

Eight cores good, ten cores better: MediaTek resumes Qualcomm multi-core war

Despite what Qualcomm claims, its main foe, MediaTek, claims that the core wars are not over. Qualcomm has argued – like a politician saying that “left and right is old thinking” – that it isn't about how many cores you had, but what you did with them. Qualcomm recently announced impressive performance figures for its new …
Simon Rockman, 30 Sep 2015
Renderings always look great

Find shaving a chore? Why not BLAST your BEARD off with a RAYGUN

Men with beards have invented a razor which shaves with a laser. Californian startup Skarp is the brainchild of follicle boffin Morgan Gustavsson, who has worked on medical devices for hair removal. Skarp Technologies says its razor is powered by a small laser, which cuts through hair for a shave which is closer than using a …
Simon Rockman, 29 Sep 2015
Clever logo aped in the falcon doors

Tesla X unfolds its Falcon wings, stumbles belatedly into the light

Vulture at the Wheel Tesla will launch the Model X tonight. This is the third model the company has launched after the Lotus-built roadster and the amazing Model S. As a minivan with three rows of seats to fit seven adults, it’s a big deal for the US market, and has “Falcon” as opposed to “gullwing” doors. Falcons being much cooler than gulls, …
Simon Rockman, 29 Sep 2015
The quarter of a million pound Rolls Royce Wraith outside Villa Mirador in St Jean Cap Ferrat

Spirit of the Ghost: Taking a Rolls-Royce Wraith around France

Vulture at the Wheel There used to be a tradition on Personal Computer World magazine of writing reviews on the computer you were reviewing. This is being written from the passenger seat of a Rolls-Royce Wraith travelling between Dijon and Reims. The two-door, four seat Wraith has just become the Rolls-Royce of interest because the company …
Simon Rockman, 27 Sep 2015

WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

This week’s caption competition used a picture from the Intel, announcing it had built a bra as the latest in wearable technology. used for caption comp Predictable but good was justincranford: Biting the hand that feeds T-IT, and we chortled at John H Woods' This could be dangerous in the wrong hands, let's keep it away …
Simon Rockman, 25 Sep 2015
Fibre Optic by Barta IV cc 2.0 attribution

Ex-BT boffin Cochrane blasts telco's 'wholly inadequate' broadband vision

Professor Peter Cochrane OBE, the former head of R&D at BT, has dismissed the former incumbent telco's trumpeted “vision for Britain’s digital future” as woefully inadequate. Current BT CEO Gavin Patterson spoke to a conference in London recently promising a number of improvements, arguing BT would tackle slow speeds in hard- …
Simon Rockman, 23 Sep 2015

Ofcom approves Qualcomm’s spectrum sale to Vodafone, Three

As expected, Ofcom has now rubber-stamped the L-band deal which saw Qualcomm sell a portion of its spectrum to Vodafone and Three, publishing a statement on the matter. Vodafone has bought the 1452-1472MHz frequencies, and (the soon-to-be-merged-with-O2) Three's spectrum at 1472-1492MHz. Spectrum is a touchy subject, but this …
Simon Rockman, 23 Sep 2015
iOS 6 and 7

iOS 9 update set to bork 'hundreds of thousands of EU businesses'

Mobile merchant terminal company iZettle has warned its users that the Bluetooth issues within Apple's operating system could seriously affect payment processes, and has strongly warned merchants using its kit not to upgrade to iOS9 until it says so. iZettle provides its users with card readers allowing them to take payments …
Simon Rockman, 22 Sep 2015
NEMA 5 plug socket

Qualcomm’s first charger with Quick Charge 3.0 breaks cover

How would you like to charge your phone much faster? That’s the promise of Qualcomm Quick Charge 3.0 and the first charger has been caught in the wild. Chinese website Chongdiantou has shown pictures of the device, which supports charging at up to 3 amps. Quick charge only works with phones which have Snapdragon 820, 620, 618 …
Simon Rockman, 21 Sep 2015

DRIVERLESS cars: Apple ups the ante with meeting in California

The “is Apple building a car?” rumour mill has received added grist with the news that Apple execs have been meeting Californian legislators responsible for self-driving cars. The Apple car project is believed to be called “Project Titan”. The Guardian reports that Apple’s legal eagle Mike Maletic had an hour long meeting …
Simon Rockman, 21 Sep 2015
Ronan Dunne, CEO of O2

Hutchison will float O2 … as soon as the Three merger is done

CK Hutchison - once known as Hutchison Whampoa* - will float O2 when it merges with Three, pushing the company back into public ownership. The merger is still awaiting regulatory approval, but is expected to go ahead. The fallout will see the number of mobile operators in the UK dropping from four to three, although given the …
Simon Rockman, 21 Sep 2015
Smart cars abound at Salon Privé

Salon Privé: The UK's billionaire-friendly answer to Pebble Beach

Vulture at the Wheel Electric cars are coming, but not in the way you would expect. The lawns of Salon Privé suggest a direction that will have the lentil-munchers puzzled. Salon Privé is the UK’s automotive equivalent to Pebble Beach. A car show for the wealthy and titled: those that actually buy Astons and Zondas. You might have to queue for …
Simon Rockman, 20 Sep 2015
Intel and Chromat make a bra which breathes

WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

We're on a roll with the caption competition and this week’s picture of a snake reading The Reg showed some great wit. Readers entered the vivarium for a chance to win a Western Digital Black, 6TB hard disk. Regular competition entrant i steal your leccy offered This is not the python tutorial i wanted!, while Ol'Peculier:The …
Simon Rockman, 18 Sep 2015
hand holdin retro telephone

Google accuses SEO biz Local Lighthouse of false claims, robo-calls

Google has taken exception to SEO outfit Local Lighthouse that apparently wrongly implied it has an affiliation with The Chocolate Factory. The American web goliath has taken legal action against the smaller biz in the northern district of California, alleging Local Lighthouse uses nuisance calls to sell its services. Google …
Simon Rockman, 17 Sep 2015
Spy hides in dustbin, lifts lid to take photograph

Tremble, Vodafone! The UN ain't happy about your phone-hacking

A former Vodafone Australia employee's spying on Fairfax journalist Natalie O'Brien, and the global mobile operator's subsequent conduct, has aroused the interest of the United Nations. David Kaye, the special rapporteur for freedom of expression, has waded in to the fray, arguing the affair shows a shoddy handling of a …
Simon Rockman, 17 Sep 2015
John von Neumann and the IAS computer

Long-memoried boffins re-invent 1950s ferroelectric tech

A new memory technology which harks back to the 1950s is to be launched by the Ferroelectric Memory Company (FMC), a commercial venture being spun out of the Technical University of Dresden’s nano and micro-laboratory (NaMLab). NaMLab specialises in dielectric materials for semiconductor devices and focuses on the application …
Simon Rockman, 17 Sep 2015
Spy on the pope with your Jesus phone

CHRIST ALMIGHTY: US Catholic Church launches app for Jesus-phone

Devout followers of the non-holy trinity of Cook, Ive and the holy ghost of Jobs will be delighted to learn that the US branch of the global franchise known as the Catholic Church has introduced its first mobile app ... and also available on Android devices. USA Catholic Church gives latest news on where the Pope is, what he’s …
Simon Rockman, 16 Sep 2015
Intel and Chromat make a bra which breathes

Chipzilla has its knockers … and now they’re cool in this venting sports bra

Chipzilla’s latest move into wearable tech embraces fashion, with a partnership that sees the company jumping into bed with sportswear brand Chromat. The companies have produced a sports bra which opens vents when it senses a certain level of heat and sweat. Chromat said its designs are based on “Becca McCharen’s theoretical …
Simon Rockman, 16 Sep 2015

Qualcomm goes freestyle: Snapdragon 820 will support unlicensed spectrum

Qualcomm's new Snapdragon 820 will support carrier aggregation with unlicensed spectrum – LTE-U, part of the new X12 LTE modem – which allows operators to combine unrestricted spectrum with their own licensed holdings to get more bandwidth. While the Snapdragon 820 isn’t expected to ship until the middle of next year, it is …
Simon Rockman, 15 Sep 2015
VoLTE compatible: LG Revolution

Three VoLTEs to victory as it jumps into UK 4G voice offering

Mobe network Three is the first to offer UK 4G voice services, with the service going live Tuesday, taking advantage of the 800MHz spectrum which Three bought in the 2013 auction. The “low” 800MHz frequency gives much better coverage than existing services through other frequencies. Three claims its customers "will be able to …
Simon Rockman, 15 Sep 2015
Stays stable on the nose

Hey, glassholes: Google patents movement-sensing, shape-shifting specs

Keeping your glasses on the bridge of your nose as you move around is a problem for which Google has a solution. The Chocolate Factory has filed a patent for glasses which mechanically alter their shape. Much like peril-sensitive sunglasses, they monitor what you are doing and react. Unfortunately this isn't a reaction to …
Simon Rockman, 15 Sep 2015
Xiaomi Mi4 LTE Android smartphone

Flash sale pioneer Xiaomi opens old-school, bricks-and-mortar shop

Mobile phone industry disruptor Xiaomi has gone all traditional and opened up a shop. Xiaomi made its name by undercutting other smartphone makers and doing flash sales on the internet, offering time-limited, knock-down deals that saw thousands of phones sold every second. The idea that you might have just walked into a shop, …
Simon Rockman, 14 Sep 2015
Three cows image via Shutterstock

What should we do with this chunk of dead air? Ofcom wants to know

VHF isn’t just for voice. Ofcom is seeking advice on how to get things connected in the spectrum space between 30MHz and 300MHz. The regulator argues that lots of spectrum is underused, or not used for the most productive things. In its consultation (PDF), Ofcom says: This document aims to encourage investment and innovation …
Simon Rockman, 14 Sep 2015

WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

We're into week three of the Western Digital caption competition – so we tested your sense of mirth with a cute critter. Of course there were the references to the meerkats who sell insurance, but lots of people looked at the creature’s hands along the lines of Andy Non: “Hey, who swiped my keyboard?” He also entered “But, …
Simon Rockman, 11 Sep 2015
Amstrad PCW 8256 running locoscrip

'A word processor so simple my PA could use it': Joyce turns 30

Archaeologic The Amstrad PCW8256 turns 30 this month. In eighteen months it did for the typewriter what the car took thirty years to do for the pony and trap. Alan Sugar’s specification was simple – “A word processor so simple Joyce could use it”. Joyce Caley was his formidable PA and "Joyce" became the codename for the project – and the …
Simon Rockman, 09 Sep 2015
management regulation2

Tech tycoon TV star Doug Richard charged with child sex offences

Ex-Dragons' Den dragon, and founder of a number of Cambridge startups Doug Richard has been charged with child sex offences. The charges include three counts of sexual activity with a child and one of causing or inciting a child to engage in sexual activity. Caroline Hughes, a Crown Prosecution Service reviewing lawyer from …
Simon Rockman, 07 Sep 2015

Ofcom issues stern warning over fake caller number ID scam

Telecoms regulator Ofcom is warning customers of the dangers of CLI spoofing – the process which allows incoming calls to display fake originating numbers on recipients' phones. The organisation has pointed out that there are valid reasons for spoofing – “for example, a caller who wishes to leave an 0800 number for you to call …
Simon Rockman, 07 Sep 2015

You shouldn't be paying for mobile ads (please buy our software)

Israeli ad-blocking company Shine has climbed on to the moral high ground, taking out an advertisement in the Financial Times calling on the mobile industry to block mobile ads. Roi Carthy, Shine’s chief marketing officer told El Reg: “Any rational person can agree that we should not be subsidising Google, Facebook and so on …
Simon Rockman, 07 Sep 2015
The Volvo S60 is a mile muncher

No boxy Volvo: Chilling in the S60 D3 Manual R-Design Lux Nav

Vulture at the Wheel Volvo has always been the marque you bought if you didn’t want to buy German. That didn’t change when Ford bought the brand and hasn’t now that it’s owned by the Chinese company Geely. This little number is a rival to a BMW 3 series or Mercedes C Class. Volvo puts as much emphasis on the trim level as on the engines and this …
Simon Rockman, 06 Sep 2015

WIN a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive with El Reg

Caption comp Hey, you're getting good at this. The captions for last week’s picture of a woman with a tarantula on her shoulder proved popular, as it received 400 comments. TheManCalledStan kicked it off with: “Relax! I'm a GM spider, poison been replaced with tattoo ink! So it was a butterfly you wanted on your shoulder, right?” It was …
Simon Rockman, 04 Sep 2015
processor chip-off

It's MediaTek v Qualcomm in the motherboard of all battles

The two big boys of the mobile chip world, MediaTek and Qualcomm, are about to see their flagship products – the Helios X20 and Snapdragon 820 respectively – come to market, with details starting to emerge; and it's likely to be all about the numbers. MediTek has ten cores to Qualcomm’s eight, but Qualcomm has taken the canny …
Simon Rockman, 02 Sep 2015
Robin phone is lightweight

The 100GB PHONE! Well, it has shades of Chrome, so not quite

A motley crew of ex-google engineers is crowdfunding the “Robin” smartphone, which claims a whopping 100GB of storage. In fact, what makes the device special is its reliance on always being connected to dynamically provide off-loaded storage. The company behind the phone, Nextbit has developed some memory management software …
Simon Rockman, 02 Sep 2015
Xiaomi Mi4 LTE Android smartphone

Xiaomi aims to knock Apple off its branch with move into computers

Rising Dragon Xiaomi is reported to be revving up the tanks to park on Apple’s lawn with the launch of a laptop. The new lappie is rumoured to be a high-end 15" notebook pitched at the MacBook Air, but at half the price. Rumours of the project have leaked to Bloomberg from component suppliers, who say that the company has been …
Simon Rockman, 02 Sep 2015
Image from Shutterstock 161369036

Ericsson software upgrade targets great indoors, makes networks faster

A substantial software upgrade for Ericsson mobile networking kit will improve throughput, said the firm – adding it will need new hardware, meaning your existing device won’t automatically run faster. Ericsson called its new release “Ericsson Networks Software 16A” and it includes a suite of LTE software upgrades targeting …
Simon Rockman, 02 Sep 2015
Reinhard Ploss CEO

Infineon CEO admits auto-chip biz may be a takeover target

Former Siemens chip company Infineon may find itself on the shopping list of a bigger semiconductor company, thanks to its strength in automotive. Consolidation and specialisation has been the order of the day in the semiconductor industry, with fewer companies for each type of component. Where once there were a dozen or so …
Simon Rockman, 01 Sep 2015

Jeep Cherokee 2.2: Capable, comfortable ... but just not very Jeep

Vulture at the wheel Ever since Fiat became FCA – Fiat Chrysler Automotive – there has been something a bit incongruous about the mix of brands. An Italian Jeep takes a bit of getting used to. Refined ride, exceptionally nice leather, a responsive automatic gearbox, multi-link rear suspension. It’s all a bit, well, not-Jeep. And the good things …
Simon Rockman, 29 Aug 2015
Graph showing growing numbers

India, Myanmar lead the way as mobile bandwidth consumption mushrooms

Mobile data usage is exploding. In an update to its Mobility Report, Ericsson said mobile broadband subscriptions had passed three billion in Q2 2015, and the year-on-year traffic growth for the same period is 55 per cent. The startling figures bring the number of mobile subscriptions to 7.2 billion, but the report points out …
Simon Rockman, 28 Aug 2015

Vodafone: Dammit Britain, your emergency services need 4G!

Despite not being part of the bid to supply the future Emergency Services Network, Vodafone wants to see public services using its 4G, and has commissioned a YouGov survey (something companies do when they want to put numbers in press releases) of front line workers, such as police officers, nurses, and social workers. The …
Simon Rockman, 28 Aug 2015

Another chance to win a 6TB Western Digital Black hard drive

Caption Competition In an act of supreme kindness, we are giving you another chance to win a 6TB Western Digital Hard Drive – in this week’s Vulture Caption Competition. Last week’s caption competition had the little grey cells in overdrive. The picture of a gorilla contemplating an iPhone led to lots of comments on who might have access to his …
Simon Rockman, 28 Aug 2015
The San Jose from Obi World Phone

Obi: These ARE the 'droids you're looking for

Former Apple CEO John Sculley is to launch a pair of Android phones. The SF1 and SJ1.5 are mid-range and low-end devices respectively from the company Obi Worldphone. "Obi has taken the best of Silicon Valley – innovations in design, state-of-the-art technology and high standards for manufacturing – and fused them into …
Simon Rockman, 27 Aug 2015

Take two mobes into the shower? I didn't before, but I do now

First Look A Kickstarter project to produce a dual-SIM iPhone is really a separate phone which the iPhone connects to via Bluetooth. The Kickstarter campaign for the 'PIECE' claims it will “Change The Way You Use Smart Phones”. It goes on: “Carrying two phones isnconvenient! [sic] It is not fashionable or stylish; it costs a lot and is …
Simon Rockman, 27 Aug 2015

Roll up, roll up, as LG launches stealthy Bluetooth keyboard

A keyboard which rolls up four rows of almost full-sized keys into a stick has been launched by LG at the IFA trade show. The tablet market might be in the doldrums, but LG sees tablet accessories as a way to make money out of it. It almost had a good name – “LG’s Rolly Keyboard” – but then LG went and ruined it with the …
Simon Rockman, 27 Aug 2015
cyanogen mobes

Wileyfox smartphones: SD card, no bloatware, Cyanogen, big battery – yes to all!

New British mobe maker Wileyfox has launched a pair of Cyanogen smartphones. The £199 SIM-free Storm has an eight-core 64-bit ARMv8 Qualcomm Snapdragon 615 system-on-chip running at up to 1.5GHz, 32GB of storage and 3GB of RAM, a 20Mp Sony EXMOR main camera and an 8Mp front-facing cam, 1920 x 1080 5.5” touchscreen display, and …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2015
Image from Shutterstock 161369036

Qualcomm sells L-Band spectrum to Vodafone, Three for massive profit

As we reported in June, Qualcomm has been looking to sell its 1452-1492MHz spectrum – and it seems it's found willing buyers in the form of Vodafone and Three. It's thought the two networks paid over £100m in total for the spectrum. The chip company rather lucked out, having paid £8.3m at auction in 2008. At the time we saw …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2015
Motorola Moto G 4G

Vodafone UK rocks the bloat with demands for vanilla Android

Vodafone UK wants to sell Android phones which are as close to stock (as Google intended) as possible, and the red company's favourite device for this is the Moto G. Writing on the Vodafone company blog, Motorola senior marketing director Marcus Frost unsurprisingly extoled the virtues of the new phone – but he's not just …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2015
Mats Granryd is the new GSMA Director General

GSMA appoints Mats Granryd as new director general

The new director general of the mobile phone operators organisation is Mats Granryd, who will take up his new role on January 1 2016. Granryd’s appointment follows the departure of Anne Bouverot last month. Bouverot has gone to head up French security and identity solution vendor Morpho. Granryd will be joing the GSMA from …
Simon Rockman, 25 Aug 2015