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Earlier this month, IDC followed thousands of iPhone and Android users to discover their social habits and how they use smartphones to communicate. The answers won't really shock you, but the numbers are pretty impressive all the same. 

 

Facing the Future 

In a 25-page PDF research document entitled "Always Connected, How Smartphones and Social Keep Us Engaged", Facebook and IDC tracked the habits of almost 7,500 U.S. smartphone users over a week in March 2013. Having already projected massive numbers of smartphone (and tablet users) for 2017, America currently has around 180 million smartphone users, approaching 58% of the population. 

In just a short space of time, these users now find Facebook as an almost as popular and meaningful way of staying connected with friends and family as using the phone to talk or send texts. Some 84% of communication is done through text, email or social means, leaving the phone bit of the smartphone fairly niche at only 16%.

The most popular activities for smartphone users are email (78%), browsing (73%), Facebook (70%), with four out of five in the survey getting online within 15 minutes of waking up. Once out and about, almost half of users will share their experiences from socializing, to watching movies and live events (way more than will tweet about the same events).

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Image: IDC "Always Connected How Smartphones And Social Keep Us Engaged"

We Are A Smartphone Nation

The full report has a barrage of facts about how people spend their time, and who they connect with. The average time spent of Facebook per day is just over half-an-hour (out of just over two hours spent communicating overall) which suggests some people actually have work to do. 

After that primary sense of connectedness, people feel excitement, curiosity and a sense of productivity from using their smartphones. Women feel and express these somewhat more than males, and the age gaps follow in variations of expressiveness.

Facebook plays a big part in all of these emotions, making the device itself a focal point for a lot of emotional energy. No wonder people are so loyal to their smartphone when it comes to upgrades and new launches. While a lot of the information is focused on Facebook, posting messages on Twitter, LinkedIn and other services aren't far behind in giving people that sense of connectedness.

Perhaps the only disappointing fact is the tiny percentage of people who use social to connect with their local community (7%). Surely if there is a power for good in smartphones, it is getting local people together to create that sense of community. How long will it be until there is an app as popular as Facebook for that?