Science: Mobile phones play games with sanity

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As if the mobile phone was not a sufficiently irritating fact of modern life, a telecoms company has linked the much reviled device with another 1990s pariah - the computer game.

The latest executive toy, on sale in January, will have three games built in, allowing the user to annoy neighbouring commuters with over-loud, single-ended conversation before infuriating them with incessant twitching and bleeping.

The new phone, from the Finnish company Nokia, offers a game called "Snake", in which the phone's keypad is used to direct the snake to eat on-screen "food"; "Memory", an updated version of the children's Pelmanism pairs game; and "Logic", which is similar to the Mastermind board game.

The games capability of the new phone highlights the increasing sophistication of modern mobiles. Electronic "business cards" can be exchanged in seconds using the phone's infrared connector, and telephone lists can be printed out directly on the increasing number of infrared enabled printers. The infrared connector can also be used to link the phone to a PC.

The processing power in the phone also allows for some clever telephone tricks. It can ignore selected calls by recognising and screening out incoming telephone numbers.

It also allows the user to divert all calls to an answerphone service and accept only calls coming from, for example, the managing director's phone number.

Of course, if the boss is calling from a different phone, that would be blocked out as well. But the potential for screening out previous partners and annoying salespeople should prove useful.

Oh, and by the way, the phone is quite good for making telephone calls.