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Look who's talking

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Statues across London and Manchester are finding their voices, thanks to Sing London.

Sing London have commissioned writers and actors to animate 35 public statues across London and Manchester.

Russell Tovey brings Alan Turing to life in Manchester, while Ed Stoppard reads words written by Antony Horowitz to voice Sherlock Holmes in London.

Passersby just have to enter a short URL into their browsers, tap an NFC enabled handset, or scan a QR code to hear the statue's monologue.  

Inject some Britishness into your life

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English: A Union jack jacket.

English: A Union jack jacket. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

David Cameron recently said he wants us to be less "bashful" about our Britishness. 

So, despite Britishness being a largely subjective notion that embodies different characteristics for different people - which are constantly changing and evolving, alongside our societal norms and values (get to the point, Ed.) - Downtime decided to compile a few thoughts on how technology enthusiasts might display a bit of Britishness in their own lives.

To get the ball rolling, we suggest you kidnap Stephen Fry, Duct-tape him to a chair and force him to record a quintessentially British answer phone greeting on your mobile in his mellifluous, trademark received pronunciation. 

If he co-operates, give him a cup of Earl Grey and a rich tea biscuit. If he refuses, why not utilise a British-themed method of torture? Threaten to smear Marmite over his eyeballs and shoot Lea & Perrins up his nostrils, while playing the GoCompare jingle full-blast on a stereo.

If he's still reluctant, tweet "Millwall fans are POO POO HEADS!" from his Twitter account, throw him on the front lawn and run - fast. Then, film the ensuing assault on your iPhone before uploading the footage to Facebook as a nod to the charmingly British phenomenon of happy slapping.

Since you're now complicit in several high-profile crimes, you've no choice but to follow in the footsteps of eminent Brits Ronnie Biggs and Lord Lucan by scarpering abroad ASAP. The good news is that, once you've reached Puerto Rico and written your best-selling Penguin Guide to Kidnapping Stephen Fry, it'll be easy for you to dodge tax in true British style, like fellow Englishmen Gary Barlow and Jimmy Carr.

Now sit back in the sun, take a swig of Pimms and know that you've done Cameron and dear old Blighty proud - ideally to the sound of Elgar's Nimrod.

Eat, sleep, breathe, order grub, repeat

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Not content with the spiralling levels of apathy and agoraphobia Amazon has propagated among a mass of torpid, troglodyte consumers in recent years, the company has released a grocery-purchasing app that lets you add items without having to prod the screen or type - because using opposable thumbs to make a grocery list is, like, so 2013.

Instead, Amazon Dash allows you to make a shopping list by shouting the required groceries into a phone like a gluttonous hermit suffering from Tourette's syndrome.


Alternatively, if that level of slothfulness makes you feel physically sick - or you just don't want your neighbours to hear you shouting "oranges" repeatedly at an ever-increasing volume when the app crashes seven times (which said neighbours construe as a weird, potentially fatal, fruit-based sex game) - you can also add items by walking around the kitchen and scanning them with a phone. Haven't you always wanted to simulate the brain-achingly sisyphean job of a supermarket cashier in your own home, only without getting paid? Well, here's your chance.

Just make sure you add a heavy coconut to the list. When you're too overweight to fit through the door, and scanning food has lost its edge, you'll need something solid to crack your skull in half and put an end to your miserable Howard Hughes-like existence.

Happy shopping!
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The iPhone coffee cup holder

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Ever found yourself in that unbearable situation where you just can't put your phone down to stop texting your friend, but you've just bought yourself a hot cup o' Joe. What do you do? Put your phone in your pocket so you can drink you Mocha? Precariously hold the plastic cup between your teeth while you finish your text? Or put your coffee down and let it go cold? 

Well, hopefully you won't need to worry for much longer as an iPhone case which also provides a perch for your brew is on the horizon - the Uppercup, at an ideal retail price of £21.

And it will surely be a big hit, until you get an important phonecall halfway through your message and you quickly lift the phone to your ear, only to hurl boiling hot java over your face!
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One-in-20 people use their mobiles during sex

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Yes, you read the headline right, more than half of people regularly use their mobile devices in bed, with 5% shockingly using their mobile while in the middle of having sex with their partner.*

Narly half check their social networks and emails on their mobile devices instead of listening to their partner, while 40% use their phones while sat on the toilet - please remember to wash your hands!

So apparently 45% of people admit that technology prevents them from ever truly switching off and relaxing in their spare time. Well we don't know about relaxing, but if there's a drop in birth rates next year, we can all blame the iPhone 5.

*Study conducted by UK technology manufacturer, Storage Options

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Who knew a bird could solve such a proplem?

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Downtime knows that your desk, as is ours, will be strewn with objects, many of which are precariously propped up. Basically our desk resembles a giant game of Jenga. 

As if Rovio, the media company made famous by the Angry Birds franchise, wasn't already being helpful enough in offering to cure sporadic boredom with bird-slinging, green pig-bashing fun on your smartphone, its partnership with Gear4 can now help tidy your desk. All without the use of a single feather duster as well.  
gear4_angry_birds_phone_stand_1.jpgThese Angry Birds iPhone/smartphone stands mean you can prop your handsets (and possibly tablets, which we are yet to try) up at a nice and secure viewing angle. No more having to use a pad of sticky notes and bottle combination to ensure your handset is in full view.

So if you no longer want to fly off the handle, desperately trying to locate your phone under mountains of scrap paper you can pluck up* an Angry Birds stand up from Mobile Fun

*Downtime would like to sincerely apologise for the number of poorly executed bird references and puns in this piece. 
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Ultimate security, no paper or digital trail

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Hamm, the piggy bank in Toy Story, is a criminal mastermind. You all remember the part where he uses Etch, the Etch-A-Sketch, to formulate a plan to rescue Woody, right?

Well, now iPhone owners can formulate, sketch and erase notes, reminders, evil plans and doodles to their hearts content with the iFoolish magic drawing case. All whilst resting assured that it be completely erased in a matter of seconds. 

App versions of Etch-A-Sketch are readily available but they'll never be as much fun as having to slide the eraser backward and forward yourself. Downtime believes dexterity is very important. 

If you want to relive the good ol' days and do your best Neil Buchanan impersonation you can pick a case up from Mobile Fun


Identify criminals on the go, with Facewatch

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A free crowdsourcing app, Facewatch, has launched for the citizens of Surrey. Despite the name, it isn't Facebook's more evident stalking sister site, but an app that was originally launched by the MET in April to help convict suspects of the London riots.

The app, which encourages users to search through images and anonymously identify anyone they recognised, is now being used by Surrey Police to crack down on crime.

facewatch_screenshot.pngCitizens with a sense of civic duty can download the app to sift through the photographs if you have an iPhone, Android or BlackBerry smartphone - no neighbourhood watch patrols for the Windows community then.

Out of curiosity, Downtime downloaded the app and entered a random Surrey postcode. We were immediately faced with three faces to identify, one of which was so blurred that we doubt the person's own mother would be unable to identify them.

Is this the answer to burning questions at local neighbourhood watch meetings? Or perhaps it's more suited to aid the masked and caped vigilantes, sworn to protect Gotham City... err, I mean Guildford.

It isn't your personality that stops you from having a holiday romance, it's your iPhone

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A, not-so-extensive, survey of 1,000 people by Skyscanner has revealed that you're more likely to land a lady in Lanzarote if you own a 'old-school' mobile. 

According to their survey, only 54% of iPhone users admit to holiday romances compared to a whopping 72% of those who are steering clear of the touchscreen. 

Hold on a second, 'only' 54% of iPhone owners admitted to a holiday romance. When I was a teen on holiday I'd have given anything for odds like that. 

Anyway, never ones to be left out, 61% of Android users also admitted to holiday romances but only 36% of them went to tell all on Facebook and Twitter. 

The survey goes on to suggest that the stereotypical chauvinists tend to own iPhones, with 47% of them bragging about their canoodling on social networks.

The reason Skyscanner cite for the supposed lack of lip-locking? Apps! 

They add that Apple fans seem to be too busy downloading apps, with 76% of them using apps on holiday, whereas only 55% of Android owners do the same.

Then, shockingly, Sam Baldwin, the Skyscanner Travel Editor, kind of rubbishes his own findings by saying, "these figures show that mobiles really do play a major part in people's holiday activities these days, perhaps even at the expense of romantic activities?"

A question mark! After all those %'s you end on a question mark. 

Downtime's holiday tip: Don't fiddle with your mobile at all, try actually talking to people.
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Bedroom smartphone antics cause relationship friction

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Downtime knew mobile phones could increase employee productivity but is surprised to discover how smartphones are also being used outside work hours in the bedroom.

 A survey by iPass finds more than 60% of enterprise employees "sleep with their smartphones".

"Significantly, 29% of mobile workers report that their mobile technology usage causes friction in their personal relationships," reads the report.  

The National Sleep Foundation also finds 95% of people admit to using some sort of electronic device before bed.

Downtime is mystified about such new methods of mobile working and the blurring of work and bedroom activities.

Will the trend ever reverse, bringing bedroom antics to the office..?

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Internet of Things is the previous category.

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