May 11, 2012

Three-quarters of smartphone owners use location-based services

Location-based information services

Almost half of adult cell phone owners (and three-quarters of smartphone owners) use their phones to get real-time location-based information

Almost three-quarters (74%) of smartphone users use their phones to get directions or recommendations based on their current location, up from 55% in May 2011. This works out to 41% of all adults (23% in May 2011).

This was the second time the Pew Internet Project has asked about general location-based services, which can range from GPS-enabled map services to reviews of nearby attractions using an app or a browser.

More adults are using their phone for location based information

Among smartphone owners, those ages 18-49 are more likely to use location-based information services than smartphone owners age 50 and older, and whites are more likely to use these services than African Americans.  Those in households making at least $40,000 per year are more likely to use location-based information services than lower-income households, and smartphone owners with at least some college experiences are more likely to than those who have not attended college.

In general, these patterns of usage are very similar to what they were in May 2011, as shown in the following table.

Smartphone owners who get location based info

Slightly more recent data from April 2012 shows that 65% of smartphone owners say they have used their phone to get turn-by-turn navigation or directions while driving, with 15% doing so on a typical day. Additionally, in the past 30 days a third (33%) of smartphone owners have used their phone for up-to-the-minute traffic or public transit information to find the fastest way to get somewhere. More information about how Americans are using their phones for a variety of real-time activities is available in our recent report, “Just-in-time Information through Mobile Connections.”4

  1. Lee Rainie and Susannah Fox, “Just-in-time Information Through Mobile Connections.” Pew Internet, May 7, 2012. http://www.pewinternet.org/Reports/2012/Just-in-time.aspx