The Pew Internet & American Life Project has recently released a study on the use of location-based services in the U.S. Among the findings, about a quarter of American adults use mobile devices to get recommendations and directions, while only a small number use location-based social networking services to check in to their current locations.
Location-based services are a contentious affair. On one hand, location-services give an edge to marketing, advertising, mapping and navigation services. However, there's also the issue with security and privacy, as users of mobile platforms are finding out, with iOS, Android and Windows Phone having tracked their users' locations at one point.
It's All About Location
Even with location-based services being a double-edged sword, it doesn't stop 28% of American mobile phone owners — or 23% of the adult population — from using their mobile phones to gain access to local deals and to get driving and navigational directions, according to the Pew study. Meanwhile, a bigger percentage of smartphone owners — at 55% — use location-based services, which is natural, as more advanced phones offer better geolocation features.
While geosocial services are popular, Pew's data shows that only a minority use services such as Foursquare or Gowalla to check in to their current locations. 5% of all mobile phone owners share their locations with their friends and contacts, which translates to about 4% of smartphone users.
Of the respondents, 14% say they have enabled automatic location tagging for their photos and status updates on social networking sites such as Twitter and Facebook. These likewise use the smartphone's or mobile device's ability to tag content with the user's present location, whether retrieved from GPS satellites or triangulated from wireless networks.
Asking for Directions? Check Your Smartphone
Pew's study found that the use of location-based services isn't much different between men and women. So while men are less likely to stop and ask for directions, both men and women are likely to use their smartphones to navigate and retrieve location-based information on establishments and deals, at 57% and 54%, respectively.
As for age, smartphone users are less likely to use their devices for directions and location-based business information, but the difference isn't too drastic. 18- to 49-year-olds are 58 to 60% likely to use their Android, iPhone or other mobile device for directions. 45% of users over 50 years of age do the same.
It's in the geosocial services that makes for a big disparity when it comes to age. The older the user, the less likely they use Foursquare, Gowalla or other similar services to share their locations. The under-30 set only uses these services 18% of the time. 12% of 30-49ers check in, and only 2% of smartphone users 50 and above share their current location with friends.
Do you use location-based services with your smartphone, tablet or other mobile device? To what extent? Do you check out local deals, navigate through online maps, or even check in with your current location?