Apps & Games

Survey Gauges Smartphone Use

New York City leads other top urban areas

People who have smartphones are often tied to the device 24 hours a day. But Soasta Inc., a mobile device and cloud testing company, wanted to know how many owners picked up their phones immediately after waking up and what app they use first thing in the morning, and hired Harris Interactive to conduct an online survey in August.


The survey tapped roughly 200 smartphone owners in the top 10 U.S. markets by population: Los Angeles, San Francisco, Dallas, Houston, Atlanta, Chicago, New York, Boston, Washington D.C. and Philadelphia.


East Coast cities represented in the survey took the top four spots: New York City smartphone owners led the way with 92 percent using their devices to load a mobile app first thing in the morning, followed closely by Philadelphia (89 percent), Boston (88 percent) and Atlanta (86 percent).


Chicago came in fifth with 85 percent, followed by San Francisco (83 percent) and Houston (81 percent). Washington, D.C., and Dallas tied for eighth with 80 percent, and coming in last was Los Angeles with 75 percent.


Reading email was the most popular activity overall (67 percent) and in New York City (78 percent). The rest of the Top 10: weather (45 percent), social media (40 percent), news (35 percent), financial news (12 percent), traffic (11 percent), shopping (11 percent), horoscope (6 percent), public transit (5 percent) and dating (3 percent).

New York residents had a lot of firsts in the survey. They are more than twice as likely to use shopping apps (22 percent) than smartphone owners in every city other than Los Angeles (15 percent). They also led in public transit apps (11 percent) and dating (9 percent), and tied with Los Angeles for the top spot in financial news. New Yorkers also use horoscope apps (14 percent) nearly twice as often as runner-up Boston (8 percent).

The top app in Boston is weather (59 percent), while Chicagoans were most likely to turn to traffic apps (17 percent). Funny, but having lived in both cities, I would have predicted the opposite.


Bits & Pieces

  • In “War Play,” a book released last month, Baruch College assistant English professor Corey Mead discusses the military’s role in creating video games and how the armed forces use games to recruit and train recruits.
  • It’s not just cookies any more. Researchers at Stanford University have discovered that you can identify and thus track a smartphone by measuring differences in how its accelerometer works. Meanwhile, researchers at the Technical University of Dresden, in Germany, uncovered a tracking method that exploits variations in radio signals.
  • Mobile gaming is the latest marketing tool. I wrote about Chipotle Mexican Grill’s game, “The Scarecrow,” last month (see here). But other businesses are jumping into the fray. For example, Renaissance Hotels’ game, which looks like a skit from “The Voice,” offers rewards points to winners. And American Express offers a prepaid debit card that earns points on the “League of Legends” video game.
  • About 20 percent of U.S. consumers use supermarket apps, according to a study from Match ShopLab and Novartis Consumer Health. Most use them at least twice a month and overwhelmingly use them for coupons. Wegmans has offered its app for a while, but you can’t save coupons to your smartphone. Tops has just introduced its app, called Tops BonusPlus, which allows paperless coupons.
  • Bad news for gamers who were waiting anxiously for Ubisoft’s “Watch Dogs.” The company announced Tuesday that the game will be delayed until spring 2014.
  • Smartphones have been super-sized with the HTC One Max, which has a whopping 5.9-inch LCD screen. Early reviews blast the device for having its fingerprint scanner on the back, where the phone’s gargantuan size makes it hard to reach. I guess sometimes bigger isn’t better.


Maria Welych, who was technology editor at The Post-Standard for five years, is director of marketing and public relations at the Milton J. Rubenstein Museum of Science & Technology. She can be reached at [email protected].

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