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.
School run car

Chunky Swedish ice maiden: Volvo XC60 D4 Manual EE Lux Nav

Vulture at the Wheel Why did the nice man from Volvo find me peering at the dashboard with a torch when he came to collect the XC60 I was testing? It was because I was looking very hard at the lights, which show when the left and right turn indicators are flashing. The dashboard is a collection of LCD screens, and I was trying to decide if someone …
Simon Rockman, 24 Jan 2015
Cell tower, view from below. Image by Shutterstock.com

Then there were 3: Another UK mobile network borged ...

Analysis Telefonica has sold O2 to Three big-daddy Hutchison Whampoa for £10bn - and it pretty much had to. Here's why. Telefonica had shown its hand in trying to flog its O2 biz to BT, revealing that it wasn’t interested keeping the brand; Telefonica smacks of never really having its heart in the venture. With BT buying EE, and …
Simon Rockman, 23 Jan 2015
John Chen

FORCE Apple to support BlackBerry hardware, demands John Chen

In a blog post on the BlackBerry website, CEO John Chen has called on regulators to force Apple and Netflix to support Blackberry hardware, claiming this forms part of the ongoing net neutrality debate. He argues that because BlackBerry has the eyes, ears and fingers of the most important people in the world – thanks to its …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jan 2015
The SAMSUNG GALAXY ALPHA lies on a white background, displays Home screen icons.

LEAKED: Samsung's iPHONE 6 KILLER... the Samsung Galaxy S6

Newly leaked specifications for the Samsung Galaxy S6 show the South Korean company taking the fight back to Apple. The expected flagship is expected to debut a year after we saw the S5 at Mobile World Congress. The “64-bit eight-core 14nm CPU which is 50% faster” could be the rumoured Snapdragon 820, but that’s likely to be …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jan 2015

LEAKED Qualcomm processors reveal sexy new specs

Specs of the new Qualcomm 820 and 600 family processors have leaked out ahead of the Mobile World Congress. The new 820 is the successor to the Snapdragon 810, which was launched last April. Qualcomm echoes Elite and names its cores after snakes. The new TS2 core is a 14nm processor, which Tom’s Hardware believes is codenamed …
Simon Rockman, 22 Jan 2015
fingers pointing at man

'If you see a stylus, they BLEW it' – Steve Jobs. REMEMBER, Apple?

Analysis firm KGI claims Apple will offer a stylus with its 12.9” iPad. If true, this would represent a volte face for Apple, which has always derided fondleslabs that used any pointing device other than a human finger attached to a human arm. The claims appear in a report leaked to Apple Insider. The KGI analyst Ming-Chi Kuo …
Simon Rockman, 19 Jan 2015
Slick looking picture of  xiaomi's Mi3 Android smartphone

China's Apple? PAH! We're looking for SUCCESS in internet TV – Xiaomi

Rising star mobile company Xiaomi is planning an assault on TV content and has reportedly set aside $1bn with which to do it. The company – which is currently giving Samsung a run for its money and recently raised $1.1bn to value the company at $45bn – has budgeted $1bn for building internet content in China and foreign markets …
Simon Rockman, 19 Jan 2015

German iron meets Monaco's highlands: Audi A1 review

Vulture at the Wheel It’s all about the steering. The face-lifted Audi A1 has eschewed the trend to drive-by-wire and has mechanical steering with variable electrical assistance. I drove the new 1.0 three-cylinder petrol engine version, and over the miles what started as a nice little practical town car turned into a fun little toy. Reviewing cars …
Simon Rockman, 17 Jan 2015
"334/365 this is a phoooonne!!!" - Lazurite

UK's landmark mobile not-spot deal already falling apart

The made-of-straw “landmark deal” to fix the not-spots in mobile phone infrastructure - which has made the UK the poor man of Europe in mobile coverage - is already starting to crumble. The necessary planning regulation to make it easier for the networks to roll out coverage to 90 per cent of the UK is being clumsily rushed …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jan 2015
Cartoon of fist clutching dollars smashing out of smartphone

Microsoft & Paypal link hands, turn round and slap Apple Pay

Microsoft will start supporting PayPal’s "PayPal Here" hardware, so people can buy things with their mobile phones. The partnership, which is only for the US initially, will allow retailers to use a Lumia or Surface to take payments through PayPal. The idea is that they will then want to use Microsoft products rather than …
Simon Rockman, 16 Jan 2015

Disney, McLaren and National Rail walk into bar: Barkeep, make me a Wearable

A £210,000 fund has been put up by Innovate UK to promote development of wearable tech and big name companies have jumped at the chance to be associated with the coolest thing since “apps” and “cloud” became passé. Innovate UK is what used to be known as the Technology Strategy Board and is the governmental organisation that …
Simon Rockman, 13 Jan 2015
jack russells racing with knitted 'jockeys' on their backs

You go fast, but we go 'further' and 'deeper' – Voda tells 'Speedy' EE

In a blog on the Vodafone website, its UK CEO Jeroen Hoencamp claims the global operator could build something as fast, or faster than, EE’s 300Mbps - it just doesn’t want to. Hoencamp claims that “one of the things that makes us different from others is that we have our 'low band spectrum'. What that means is that our 4G is on …
Simon Rockman, 13 Jan 2015
SpaceX concept of DragonLab - a Dragon re-entry capsule with unpressurised trunk attached

ROBOT-ON-DRAGON GRABHAND ACTION: SpaceX supply podule arrives at ISS

Elon Musk’s Dragon module has successfully docked with the ISS Harmony module for its resupply mission. NASA tweeted that the Dragon berthed at 5:54 ET and secured: #Dragon now bolted to #ISS! #ISScargo unloading scheduled to begin Tuesday. What's aboard: http://t.co/kluw3s9KkY pic.twitter.com/muCo16MDIU — NASA (@NASA) January …
Simon Rockman, 12 Jan 2015
An Android robot blushes from embarrassment

Android users are massive wan … er … smut consumers

Stats from self-pleasuring site Pornhub (link vaguely NSFW - no pics but still contains the word Pornhub) show that mobile viewing has overtaken desktop, and Android is the OS of choice for viewers of its select content. The, ahem, growth is in part down to the site removing its limit on the number of videos a day that can be …
Simon Rockman, 12 Jan 2015

Tesla S P85+: Smiling all the way to the next charging point

Vulture at the Wheel The Tesla S is astonishing. I’d driven one around the London Docklands at a launch, but a week with one has me converted to merits of auto electricity. I have to admit I was sceptical. Electric car owners as a tribe can be quite hard work. They are always convinced that their cars are wonderful, even the ones with G-Wizzes. So …
Simon Rockman, 11 Jan 2015
Lenovo's P90

Lenovo hopes to say Hello Moto to smartphone cash

A year after buying Motorola, Lenovo is looking to sell a lot of its once highly popular phones. The Chinese company expects the brand to account for 40 per cent of the smartphones it sells next year. Combined Motorola and Lenovo sales of smartphones last year were 85 million. This would make it the third-largest smartphone …
Simon Rockman, 09 Jan 2015
Airwave has given the police reliable comms

Police radios will be KILLED soon – yet no one dares say 'Huawei'

In less than 18 months' time the police radio network will be switched off. There is no obvious replacement and the looming omnishambles is turning into a bonanza for Arqiva, the only company brave enough to offer a solution. Peter Neyroud CBE, former head of the National Policing Improvement Agency and now at the University of …

Right, who feels like going to an Ofcom meeting? Anyone? Bueller?

Ofcom has released a draft of its plans for 2015 and 2016, promising to protect citizens, as well as allow them to express a view on developments, which is nice. The final plan will be published in March, but the draft allows interested parties to express a view, to be aired at one of a series of public meetings which you can …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jan 2015
A 3D printed speaker

3D printer bods offer New Year's resolution (geddit?)

Formlabs, the company that makes the Form 1+ 3D printer, has announced a software upgrade that improves printing speed and reduces the size of supports to increase speed, reduce the amount of resin used and thus lower 3D printing costs. New Year, New Resolution. from Formlabs on Vimeo. The speed comes from a new Draft Mode, a …
Simon Rockman, 07 Jan 2015
Qualcomm President Derek Aberle

Qualcomm prez says nowt about $1bn China fine rumours

CES 2015 China's National Development and Reform Commission (NDRC) claims Qualcomm is overcharging and abusing its market position, something for which the US chip company may be fined $1bn. At the Qualcomm CES press conference, president Derek Aberle highlighted the dispute as “one of the highest priorities for our management team”. …
Simon Rockman, 06 Jan 2015
Koda's First phone

Kodak fires a Bullitt at oldsters with 3G mobe launch

CES 2015 Kodak has launched its first mobile phone, the Kodak IM5 smartphone. It's aimed at the more mature users who are looking at moving to a smartphone but want a brand they find reassuring. The device is made by Bullitt Group, best known for its Caterpillar rugged phones. The IM5 is a fairly standard Android phone with a 13Mp …
Simon Rockman, 06 Jan 2015
Lego Pirate Captain

Cap’n Ericsson and his great SEABORNE CLOUD wheeze

CES 2015 Ericsson has launched a “Maritime ICT Cloud”, mainly supporting logistical operations, as well as connecting vessels at sea with shore-based operations, maintenance service providers, customer support centres, fleet/transportation partners, port operations and authorities. There are also tools for voyage optimization, cargo …
Simon Rockman, 06 Jan 2015
Man in an orange jumpsuit clutches prison bars. Image by Shutterstock

No cellphones in cells, you slag! UK.gov moots prison mobe zap law

New legislation to be discussed in Parliament today will compel mobile phone networks to cut off the phones of criminals who use mobile phones in prison. There is no onus on the Prison Service to prove a targeted phone is being used by a specific prisoner; the service will be able to apply to a court for it to be disconnected …
Simon Rockman, 05 Jan 2015

Renault Captur: Nobody who knows about cars will buy this

Vulture at the Wheel The Renault Captur (Dynamique MediaNav dCi 90, to give it its full name) is the kind of car people who buy them describe as “easy to drive”. These are the same people who when you ask what car is that, they say “a red one”. I once reviewed the IBM PS/1 and was more than a little disappointed. The only thing IBM and I agreed …
Simon Rockman, 04 Jan 2015
Less flash paper produces a longer flame

Want to shoot FIREBALLS from your wrists, SPIDER-MAN style?

The Pyro Fireshooter lets you fulfil your Dragon Ball fantasies where you play manga hero Goku and shoot fireballs from your open palm. For those comic book fans among you, it's basically as if Spider-Man shot fire from his wrists instead of webbing. Youtube Video Aimed at professional magicians, it’s a device which straps to …
Simon Rockman, 03 Jan 2015
Artist's impression of the Bloodhound SSC thundering along. Pic: Bloodhound SSC

1,000mph ROCKET CAR project dogged by beancounters

The hand-to-mouth existence of the incredible Bloodhound Supersonic car has been revealed in a blog post by project director Richard Noble. Noble slams the UK as a nation of bean counters for the difficulty he’s having in raising finance, stating that we have six times as many accountants as doctors and more than the rest of the …
Simon Rockman, 02 Jan 2015
Elon Charges a tesla S

Fill 'er up: 'Leccy car firm Tesla brings back PUMP SERVICE

Elon Musk has posted a tweet confirming Tesla is working on a charger that will save you from having to get out of the car. Btw, we are actually working on a charger that automatically moves out from the wall & connects like a solid metal snake. For realz. — Elon Musk (@elonmusk) December 31, 2014 Given than it still takes 20 …
Simon Rockman, 02 Jan 2015
Dom Joly

30 years ago today, the first commercial UK 'mobile' phone call was made

The first mobile phone calls were made on Cellnet and Vodafone 30 years ago today. The companies we know as Vodafone and O2 today were Racal-Vodafone and Securicor-Cellnet back then, phones were the size of a small suitcase and only did voice. They didn’t even let you assign names to the numbers in the phonebook. The two …
Simon Rockman, 01 Jan 2015

T-Mobile US CEO on wearables: 'Apple Watch is the tipping point'

In a rash of annual predictions, T- Mobile big cheese John Legere claims that “Wearables and phablets will be the big device stories of 2015”. He goes on to look at exercise and fashion products as being in the same space: “I love what Jawbone, Fitbit, Samsung, LG, Microsoft and others are doing in the wearables space. But we …
Simon Rockman, 31 Dec 2014
TalkTalk YouView set top box launch

TalkTalk eyes up Blinkbox for advanced FOURPLAY – report

Budget telco TalkTalk is reportedly pursuing a buyout of video-streaming service Blinkbox from Tesco. In the manoeuvrings to provide mobile, internet, TV and fixed phone services, Blinkbox had looked to be a good move for Britain's biggest supermarket, but while Tesco Mobile has been successful for the retail giant, BlinkBox …
Simon Rockman, 30 Dec 2014
Apple phone payement.

UK banks prepare for Apple Pay 'invasion', look to slap on bonking protection

Analysis Apple's attempt to launch its NFC payment solution in the UK could be thwarted by some financial institutions' concerns over privacy and security issues surrounding Cupertino's "invasion" of the banking industry. The system, which has been developed with the credit card companies, has been tried by two million iPhone 6 users in …
Simon Rockman, 30 Dec 2014
Photo From <a target="_blank" href="http://www.shutterstock.com/pic-232507384/stock-photo-christmas-holiday-happy-girl-friends-looking-at-something-on-digital-touch-screen-tablet-pc.html?src=9mJhlJ8bDz_0JV9eZNUpyQ-1-34">Shutterstock</a>

UK retailers in TABLET PRICE SLASH BONANZA

Bad news for the big man in red - if Santa left a tablet under your tree he probably paid too much, as a massive glut of fondlesome devices has seen prices tumbling. You can buy tablets for under £30, but for just over that (including shipping) you can get a 7” Quad Core device, and Amazon is now chock-a-block with cheap tablets …
Simon Rockman, 30 Dec 2014
Microsoft LUMIA NOKIA 530

Key to Windows mobe app sales? Er, LOW MEMORY, of course

Microsoft is imploring developers to keep an eye on memory budgets when coding for the Windows Phone. Downloads from the Windows and Windows Phone Store are dominated by version 8.1 (Windows), with 92 per cent of downloads using Metro the update of the new look operating system. Of the Windows phone downloads, 8.1 again …
Simon Rockman, 30 Dec 2014
xiaomi Mi Wi-Fi router

'Apple of China' Xiaomi: Yep, we HAVE just bagged $1.1 BEELLION

Top Chinese mobile phone manufacturer Xiaomi has confirmed reports that it has raised $1.1bn to fund its plans for world domination. In a Facebook Post, president and co-founder Bin Lin said: We just completed the latest round of funding last week, raising US$1.1 billion at valuation of US$45 billion. Investors include All- …
Simon Rockman, 29 Dec 2014
Our artist's impression of how the bus-spotting terrorist bust may have looked

Buses? PAH. Begone with your filthy peasant-wagons

Comment A bus is a fantastically efficient way to move a large number of people. Buses however are not. They are a dreadful system for getting people to work. The difference is not as subtle as that sentence may make it seem. What lies behind it is that when you want to move a large number of people from one place to another all at once …
Simon Rockman, 27 Dec 2014
Gözde Kansu in the offending dress

Mobe not-spots 'landmark deal'? We ain't thick, Javid

The “landmark agreement” between the government and the mobile phone operators has been reported as a coup, something worthy, and a step forward. However, scratch the surface and it’s merely a face-saving exercise. It’s more than a little difficult to work out what the agreement actually says, but we here at the offices of El …
Simon Rockman, 26 Dec 2014

White hats do an NSA, figure out LIVE PHONE TRACKING via protocol vuln

Security vulnerabilities in the SS7 phone-call routing protocol that allow mobile call and text message tracking will be revealed this weekend. Details of SS7 vulnerabilities are due to be revealed to the public for the first time at the Chaos Communication Congress hacker conference in Hamburg on 27 December (schedule here). …
Sold under the Au brand by Japanese network KFFI

SEXY GOLD FireFOXY LADY hits Japan in transparent kimono today

Japan's Au mobile network has launched a transparent-cased Firefox OS phone, in an unusual move for the free software community into an already well-established market. Mozilla's mobile OS is focused on the world's emerging markets, and particularly places such as South America where the operators - led by Telefonica - are keen …
Simon Rockman, 25 Dec 2014
The Elements Phone

Pond, rocks or quicksand in your 1km garden? Get a rugged DECT phone

BT has launched a new cordless phone, named Elements, designed for challenging environments - notably your garden or a forecourt of some kind - and incorporating a range of 1km, or 0.625 of a mile, if you prefer. Built to IP67 it’s dustproof, waterproof to 1m, and is a successor to an earlier BT phone of the same name. BT is …
Simon Rockman, 24 Dec 2014

Google rams Landfill Android into Indian Ocean folks' faces

Three new emerging nations have been added to the list of places getting Google's budget phone version of Android. Android One will now be available in Bangladesh, Nepal, and Sri Lanka, although the promised launch in Pakistan - planned before Christmas - has been put back. The three new countries add an audience of 200m to the …
Simon Rockman, 23 Dec 2014
Decaying red telephone boxes

BT takes broadband to NEW PLACES. That's right: CITIES

BT is trumpeting a new test which will see it install broadband in some really hard-to-reach locations: the middle of cities. Well, provided it can get into the building in the first place. It seems there are some places where it’s impossible to put a cabinet in the street, and that means slow broadband for domestic and small …
Simon Rockman, 23 Dec 2014
Funny money from south of the river

BONK for CASH in Brixton and help us EAT the RICH

The Brixton Pound (B£), the private currency for denizens of the slightly more affordable bit of earth next to Clapham, is to adopt near field communications, or NFC, payments. The area – which has become so painfully fashionable the locals are fighting back against poshos buying all the houses – has had its own currency for …
Simon Rockman, 22 Dec 2014
Connected headset

Careful - your helmet might get squashed by a VOLVO

Volvos will soon be capable of squawking their presence to cyclists wearing a helmet from cycling brand POC, letting the Lycra louts get out of the way of the four-wheeled Scandinavian middle lane hoggers. The idea behind the new technology from Ericsson is that both the car and the bicycle can determine when their proximity and …
Simon Rockman, 22 Dec 2014

Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde: Fun, but not for all

Vulture at the Wheel The Alfa Romeo Giulietta is a car with far too much power. The 240hp from the 1750cc turbocharged four-cylinder petrol engine overwhelms the fat tyres, so it struggles for grip and torque steers. Alfa Romeo Giulietta Quadrifoglio Verde. Pic: Simon Rockman Alfa Romeo Giulietta And I love it. I had a lot of things to do today …
Simon Rockman, 20 Dec 2014

Apple v BBC: Fruity firm hits back over Panorama drama

Apple has refuted claims made by the BBC’s Panorama programme that it is not working hard enough to protect the rights of workers. The programme Apple's Broken Promises claimed that Pegatron - a contractor making the iPhone 6 - was abusing rules on working hours, keeping workers' ID cards, and using underage workers. Employers …
Simon Rockman, 19 Dec 2014
Swiss alps

Iliad owner coughs €2.3bn for Orange Switzerland

Xavier Niel, the owner of French ISP and mobile phone company Iliad, is buying Orange Switzerland for CHF2.8bn (€2.3bn) from VC Apax Partners. Iliad, under its Free Mobile brand, is a 3G and 4G operator but grew its mobile business through a 2G roaming deal with Orange and used aggressive pricing to grow its market share. Niel’ …
Simon Rockman, 19 Dec 2014
The msianthropes card game

30,000 people buy a box of BOVINE EXCREMENT

Would you pay $6 for a box of shit? Fans of the "party game for horrible people", Cards Against Humanity did. On Black Monday, the company offered a special, one-day-only offer of a box which said “bullshit” on it. Nothing more, just Cards Against Humanity Bullshit. Customers ordered them in droves and internet rumours of a …
Simon Rockman, 17 Dec 2014
The only problem with an earing is that it will trigger the NFC app everytime you answer the phone

Unlock your mobe by STROKING it with your PEARL

Jewellery firm Galatea has released an app which plays audio when one of the company's pearls is touched to the back of a phone. That's not a euphemism. It is usually believed that pearls are formed when a bit of grit gets into an oyster. This is, however, not the case. Oysters are filter feeders and quite adept at dealing with …
Simon Rockman, 16 Dec 2014

We are never getting back to... Samsung's baking Apple's 14nm 'A9' chips?

A new generation of smaller, faster Apple processors is now under production by Samsung, including at Sammy's Texan facility, according to reports. While Apple and Samsung have a rather fraught relationship (mainly conducted through lawyers) Samsung’s components division is a major supplier to Cupertino. It’s not known what …
Simon Rockman, 15 Dec 2014
Vittorio Colao (CEO)

Vodafone poised to ink chumship pact with T-Mobile and get back into US enterprise

Vodafone is poised to piggyback on T-Mobile US's network to get back into the American business market. The MVNO deal is aimed at offering US enterprises global coverage from Voda: the mobile telco has about 400 America-based multinationals as customers, and 500 companies headquartered outside the States but which have a large …
Simon Rockman, 15 Dec 2014