You can keep your fancy Angry Birds games and NFC-based wallets because old-fashioned text messaging is still the most popular application for smartphone users in the United States.
According to a recent survey conducted by the Pew Internet and American Life Project, 92% of smartphone users send or receive text messages on their devices, thus making SMS the most popular smartphone application along with taking pictures, which is also used by 92% of smartphone users. Other popular smartphone applications listed in the survey included accessing the Web (84%), sending pictures or videos (80%) and sending or receiving email (76%).
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Pew found that a majority of smartphone users utilized a wide variety of applications on their devices, as 64% of smartphone users reported playing games on their smartphones, 59% reported accessing social networking sites and 54% reported watching videos. However, only 15% of smartphone users reported using their device to access Twitter, one of the most popular social networking sites on the Web.
There was unsurprisingly a large gap between the types of applications that smartphone users reported using and the types that traditional cellphone users reported using, as only text messaging and picture taking were used by a majority of traditional cellphone users. Only small minorities of traditional cellphone users used their devices to accessing the Internet (15%), send or receive email (10%) and play games (14%), while just over a third of traditional users (36%) sent a photograph with their devices.
Although smartphone users have access to wider variety of applications than traditional cellphone users, they are still only a minority of mobile device users, Pew says, as just over one-third of American adults (35%) own a smartphone.
Pew's findings on the popularity of mobile gaming are directly in line with research released last month by Nielsen, which showed that 64% of users had played a game on their device within the last month. From a platform perspective, iPhone, Android and Windows Phone were the three drivers of mobile gaming as more than two-thirds of users for each operating system played a game on their device in the past month. Research in Motion's BlackBerry devices didn't provide anywhere near the same level of fun, apparently, as only 24% of BlackBerry users played a game on their device. Other popular application types included weather apps (60%), social networking (56%) and maps (44%), Nielsen found.