Mobile Usage Soars: Half Of Users Download Apps, Increase Web Access

Mobile phone owners are doing things like going online, using apps, and checking email via their devices at twice the rate they were four years ago, according to the latest findings from the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.

Just about everyone has done mobile. Nine out of 10 American adults now have a cell phone, and 57% own a smartphone. And more than ever, they’re doing more than talking on them. The most popular non-voice activity remains text messaging. About eight in 10 (81%) people send or receive text messages, up from 65% in 2009.

But other activities have seen bigger gains in that time frame. The share of mobile users accessing the Web has grown to 60% from 29%, while more than half (52%) exchange email in mobile, up from 27%, and 50% download apps compared to 22% in 2009. About half also look up directions (49%) and listen to music (48%) on their devices. 

The Pew Internet Project earlier this week released data showing that among those who use the Internet or email on their phones, more than a third (34%) go online mostly through their handset.

Among less common activities, 21% participate in video calls or chats on their phones, triple the share three years ago. The proportion of people using location-sharing, or “check-in” services, like Foursquare, has actually dropped of since last year, slipping to 8% from 11%.

Those adopting many of these mobile data activities tend to skew younger, more affluent, urban and better educated than average. Hispanics and African-Americans are also generally more likely to use their phones for things like Web browsing, listening to music and location-sharing.

The Pew study was based on a telephone survey conducted from April 17 to May 19 with a sample of 2,252 U.S. adults 18 and older. 

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