There are now more than 250,000 apps available for the iPhone, more than 30,000 such apps for smartphones running Android, and several thousand for those who have Blackberry devices.
There are apps for counting calories and nutrition information; apps for logging fitness workouts; apps to monitor vital signs; apps providing health tips; apps to calculate disease risks; apps to calculate body mass index; apps for keeping personal health records and for providing users’ health information to physicians and emergency workers; apps to learn about medicines; apps for smoking cessation; and apps for yoga stretching exercises people can perform at their desks at work.
Cell phone users between 18-29 years old are more likely than older cell owners to use mobile health apps: 15% do so, compared with 8% of cell users ages 30-49, for example. African American cell phone owners are more likely than other groups to use such apps: 15% do so, compared with 7% of white and 11% of Latino cell phone users. Urban cell phone owners are more likely than those who live in suburban or rural areas to have a mobile health app on their phone. There are no significant differences between men and women, nor among income groups.
Mobile health information
The demographic mix shifts a bit when it comes to looking for health information on the go.
Younger cell phone users are certainly the most likely group to do this activity, but the drop-off point is closer to age 50, rather than age 30. Latino cell phone users are significantly more likely than other groups to use their cell phone to look for health information: 25% do so, compared with 15% of non-Hispanic whites, for example. Cell phone owners living in urban areas are more likely than their suburban and rural counterparts to use their phones to gather health information.
In addition to the findings related to cell phones, the September 2010 survey finds that 57% of American adults have a wireless connection and use a laptop or a cell phone to access the internet.
The “mobile difference,” which Pew Internet first identified in 2009, is the observation that once someone has a wireless device, that person is more likely to use the internet to gather information, share information and create new content. These patterns are beginning to emerge in Americans’ pursuit of health information on mobile devices as well as traditional wired computers.
This survey finds that 78% of wireless internet users have looked online for health information, compared with 70% of internet users with desktop access and 59% of all American adults.
Previous research by the Pew Internet Project has shown that wireless connections are associated with deeper engagement in health-related social media. Mobile internet users are more likely than those with tethered access to post comments and reviews online about health and health care, for example. Information is now portable, personalized, and participatory, thanks in part to the growing number of American adults who are leading the wireless pack.