May 11, 2012 at 5:33 PM ET
Many of us are letting our smartphones use location information to do more and more things, but most of us have yet to adopt or embrace "geosocial" services like Foursquare. A new report from the Pew Internet & American Life Project says that 74 percent of smartphone owners "get real-time location-based information," but only 18 percent use a service to check into "certain locations or share their location with friends."
In a new report about location-based services and smartphone users, Pew notes that 46 percent of Americans now have smartphones, up from 35 percent last year.
The overall proportion of U.S. adults who get location-based information on their smartphones "has almost doubled over that time period, from 23 percent in May 2011 to 41 percent in February 2012," Pew says.
But while location data is increasingly being used to enhance apps ranging from photography to restaurant reservations, the check-in services have struggled. In the past six months, both Gowalla and Facebook Places have been killed off. Foursquare, the last major service standing, still has to deal with the issue of many users who are wary about sharing more information than they have to online, despite a growing number of Foursquare wannabes.
Paradoxically, Pew reports that the geosocial services are making some headway: 18 percent of adult smartphone owners used check-in programs in 2012, up from 12 percent last year. Perhaps all of that growth belongs to Foursquare, which says it has more than 20 million users worldwide.
"Among smartphone owners, younger adults are more likely than older adults to use both location-based information services and geosocial 'check-in' services," Pew said in the report.
"We’ve watched mobile phones become increasingly entwined in people’s everyday activities, and location-based services are an important part of that," said Kathryn Aickhur, author of the report, in a statement.
"It’s fascinating to watch how quickly smartphones owners are incorporating this type of real-time, location-specific information in their lives."