Smartphone users are now far more likely to use an app than surf the mobile web on their devices, though older users are much less app-dependent than their younger counterparts.
According to comScore's annual Mobile App Report, a whopping 87 percent of time spent on mobile devices by users older than 18 now occurs through mobile apps, with only 13 percent of the total time spent navigating a mobile web browser.
The results weren't quite as dramatic among those ages 55-64 — 56 percent of mobile time spent by that age group came on app usage. And more than half — 53 percent — of the oldest group segmented, those over age 65, still rely mostly on the mobile web when using a smartphone or tablet, though that's a 5 percent drop from last year.
Other findings in the 2017 Mobile App Report:
- Facebook is the top app by number of unique visitors among those over age 55, a crown the social network holds among all age groups save for the youngest surveyed. For 18- to 24-year-olds, Facebook is the second most popular app, behind YouTube. Overall, Facebook has the highest penetration of any app, reaching 93 percent of the entire app population surveyed.
- The rest of the top eight apps for those over 55: Google Search, Facebook Messenger, YouTube, Google Maps, Google Play, Apple News and Gmail.
- News apps are especially popular among older users. They were the only age group to rank Apple News among their most popular apps, and among indexing apps (a category that breaks down unique visitors from each age segment among the top 50 overall apps), Fox News was tops for users over 55.
- The oldest users surveyed spend about half as much time each day using a mobile app as the youngest users (1.6 hours per day for those over 65, compared with 3.2 hours per day for those 18 to 24). Average daily app usage decreases chronologically by age — 35-44 spend 2.3 hours per day on apps, while 45-54 spend 1.8 hours per day
- Most people use the same apps, over and over. For example, 53 percent of those over 55 spend more than half their time on their favorite app, and they spend 97 percent of their time using one of their top 10 apps.
- To that end, older users discover new apps far less often than younger ones. Only 22 percent of those over 55 said they're always looking for new apps (compared with 70 percent of those 18-34), and only 19 percent of older users said they get excited about new apps (compared with 65 percent of younger users). And only 20 percent of older users said they now download new apps more often than they delete old ones.
Among the study's quirkier findings:
- Those over 55 are nearly five times as likely to use both hands when using their device, with 39 percent reporting they consider navigating their smartphone a double-fisted endeavor, compared to only 8 percent of 18-34.
- Older users are more tolerant of getting push notifications, but there's a very good reason: They are also far less likely to agree to receive such notifications when an app makes the request. Even in the digital age, with age comes wisdom.