Your mobile device is a little extension of you, loaded up with your text messages, emails, social apps (Facebook, Twitter), news apps, finance apps, photography, location-based social networks, music, travel, sports, health, lifestyle…the list goes on. But how long do you actually keep those apps open, and when do you use which apps?
A new study entitled “Falling Asleep with Angry Birds, Facebook and Kindle–A Large Scale Study on Mobile Application Usage,” looks at mobile application usage behavior, and yields some surprising results. Users spend nearly one-hour (59.23 minutes) on their devices, but the average application session, which means opening an app to closing it, lasts little more than one minute, or 71.56 seconds.” The study looks at which types of apps are used when, and pontificates a bit on why that is.
The study used AppSensor, a virtual application sensor that uses large-scale deployment of appazaar, a feedback-based mobile app recommender system. It looked at application usage from over 4,100 Android-powered devices. Android provides the required openness that AppSensor needs to run as a background service, which is not possible on Apple’s iPhone. Each app is categorized into only one category.
Researchers discovered two types of findings: basic descriptive statistics and contextual descriptive statistics. The former revealed that an average app session lasted little more than one minute.
Which Mobile Apps Are People Using?
Contextual findings revealed information about app usage related to time of day and location. According to the data, users spent an average 36.47 seconds in the “unknown” apps category and 31.91 seconds in the “finance” category, which included personal money management apps (Mint.com), stock market apps (Google Finance app) and mobile banking (Bank of America).
Users spent the most time in apps that related to the mobile device itself, themes and tools. In the libraries and demos category, users spent an average of 274.23 seconds. The apps in this section relate to the mobile device’s operating system (Google Services Framework, default Updater, Motorola Updater). Users spent an average 258.28 seconds in Themes (Zune Home, Fingerprint Screensaver, HomeChange) and 206.23 seconds in Tools (AppBrain App Market, Apps Organizer, Google Goggles). Users spent nearly half as much time in Games apps, using Angry Birds, Wordfeud FREE and Solitaire for an averageof 114.25 seconds.
When Are People Using Which Apps?
Participants began using apps starting in the morning 6am and 7am, with activity growing until nearly 1pm. App usage slows to a peak around 6pm, and is at a minimum around 5am.
The one type of app that people used throughout the day? Communication apps. The study shows that mobile devices are most likely to be used for communication every single hour of the day, with use in the afternoon and evening at a probability of more than 50%. Different types of apps were used the most at varying points of the day. People used news apps the most between 7-9am. Finance apps saw a peak around 11am, and most people used game apps late in the evening. Social apps were also used most in the late evening hours (9pm-1am). Sports apps were used most between 2-5pm and 8-10pm. Communication apps were used only minimally in the early morning hours. Alarm clock apps during the nighttime hours, from 2am-9am.
The Application Chain Phenomenon: Jumping From One App to the Next
If you’re using one app, chances are you’ll jump to another somewhat similar app. The study revealed “application chains,” or sequences of apps that people used without the device being in standby mode for longer than 30 seconds. Here’s an example: Users went from Grocery iQ (Shopping) to GrubHub Food Delivery (Lifestyle) and ended with Epicurious Recipe App (Lifestyle). In another instance, a user started with AroundMe (Lifestyle) app, continuing to Find A Starbucks (Shopping), Google Maps (Travel). Nearly half of all chains belong to the “communication” category.
Image via AndroidPhoneUpdate.com.