Pew: 28% of adults use location-based services

Faith Merino · September 6, 2011 · Short URL:

Most are getting directions and recommendations, not checking in

A full 28% of all American adults now use location-based services on their mobile phones, according to a new study released today by the Pew Research Center’s Internet & American Life Project.  The number translates to 58% of smartphone owners.

When the Pew researchers say “location-based services,” they’re referring to everything from getting directions to checking in with their mobile device.  In a survey of 2,277 adults, researchers found that getting directions and location-based recommendations accounts for the most usage of location-based services, with some 28% of all cell phone owners (not just smartphone owners) using their phone to this end.

Interestingly, check-ins account for minimal location-based activity among mobile users, with only 5% of cell phone owners (12% of smartphone owners) using geosocial services like Foursquare or Gowalla.

Meanwhile, some 9% of Internet users have set up their social media posts with automatic location-tagging, which translates to 14% of all social media users.

To no one’s surprise, younger users are in the lead when it comes to using location-based services, with 63% saying they’ve used their phone to get directions, recommendations, or to check-in somewhere, compared to 61% of 30-49-year-olds and 45% of those over the age of 50.

Those with higher incomes were more likely to say they’ve used a location-based service, with 65% of those with annual household incomes of $75,000 or more saying they’ve done so, compared to 59% of those with incomes between $40,000 and $75,000.

Additionally, non-whites are more likely than whites to use those services (59% to 50%, respectively).

“Americans are not currently all that eager to share explicitly their location on social media sites, but they are taking advantage of their phones’ geolocation capabilities in other ways,” said Kathryn Zickuhr, co-author of the report. “Smartphone owners are using their phones to get fast access to location-relevant information on-the-go.”

A previous Pew study released in November 2010 found that only 4% of all adults use mobile check-in services, with only 1% using services like Foursquare and Gowalla on any given day. 


Support VatorNews by Donating

Read more from our "Trends and news" series

More episodes