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Half of cell phone users in U.S. now downloading, using abundance of apps

December 2, 2011

"Just last night I was upstairs in the library and I was wishing that there was an app for eSIS to register for classes,” said senior information technology worker Lance Balzart.

According to a new survey by the Pew Research Center’s Internet and American Life Project, half of U.S. adult cell phone owners (50 percent) now have apps on their phones. In May, that figure stood at only
43 percent. The survey also finds the 10 percent of adults who currently own a tablet computer, three-quarters report downloading apps to their tablet. These findings are from a survey conducted from July 25 to Aug. 26 among 2,260 adults ages 18 and over.

“A lot of students will ask if we have certain apps on the computers in the library labs, but I have to say no and tell them that they can’t download them because they have the potential of hurting the computer,” said Balzart.

On the computers in the library the apps can range any- where from Microsoft Word to Life Sciences Guide to Birds of North America. Courtney Brown, a senior marketing communications major, said she thinks that apps on smartphones are unnecessary.

“I don’t have Internet on my phone and I don’t really mind because it seems like a big distraction,” Brown said. “I’m already on my phone enough with texting and calling people, I don’t always need to be connected to everything.”

Brown said if she has to get a smartphone with Internet and apps for her job she will, otherwise she would like to avoid it. On the other hand, senior marketing communications major Katie Bobleter said she doesn’t know what she would do without her apps.

“One of my marketing professors calls me the ‘Twitter queen,’” Bobleter said. “I have an Apple iPhone and on a daily basis I usually use Facebook, StumbleUpon, Netflix, Hulu, Wells Fargo, Foursquare, International Movie Data Base (IMBD), Pandora, iHeartRadio, Horoscopes, SoundHound, Weather Channel, Craigslist and Groupon.”

According to the survey, the most commonly downloaded apps are those that provide regular updates about everyday information such as news, weather, sports or stocks. Also popular are apps that help people communicate with friends and family and apps that help the user learn about something in which they are interested.

Bobleter said she doesn’t have a laptop so she uses her iPhone as her main communications device.

“The apps can be very distracting, but it’s also very convenient since I don’t have a laptop,” said Bobleter. “Without my smart phone I don’t know how else I would check my email everyday.”

Balzart said he doesn’t think smartphones will ever replace a desktop, but will definitely be- come more prominent.

“My mom is 55 years old and now wants to start using a smartphone,” Balzart said. “It’s becoming more of a necessity.”

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