Almost three-quarters (74%) of smartphone owners get real-time location-based information on their phones as of February 2012, up from 55% in May 2011. This increase coincides with a rise in smartphone ownership overall (from 35% of adults in 2011 to 46% in 2012), which means that the overall proportion of U.S. adults who get location-based information has almost doubled over that time period—from 23% in May 2011 to 41% in February 2012.
Meanwhile, more smartphone owners are using geosocial services like Foursquare or Gowalla to “check in” to certain places and share their location with friends. Some 18% of smartphone owners use geosocial services on their phones, up from 12% in 2011. This translates to 10% of all adults as of February 2012, up from 4% in May 2011.
Some 75% of smartphone owners use at least one of these services, as shown in the following table. Not surprisingly, nearly all of the smartphone owners who use geosocial services (93%) also report getting location-based directions and information.
Among smartphone owners, younger adults are more likely than older adults to use both location-based information services and geosocial “check-in” services. However, while smartphone owners in lower-income households are less likely to use location-based information services, they are more likely to use geosocial services like Foursquare.
Teens and geosocial services
As of July 2011, almost one in five teen smartphone owners (18%) use a geosocial service such as Foursquare. This works out to 8% of teen cell phone owners and 6% of all teens ages 12-17. In general, older teens ages 14 to 17 are more likely to use geosocial services than 12 and 13-year-olds.