Apps Now Account for Half the Time Spent Online, Report Says

PHOTO: Smartphone applications are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone in New York, Feb. 5, 2016. Chris Goodney/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Smartphone applications are displayed on an Apple Inc. iPhone in New York, Feb. 5, 2016.

This Labor Day Weekend, how many people checked the weather on their phones? If it was raining, did they check movie showtimes? Did they do all of this on apps? The answer is likely yes.

According to media analytics company comScore, as of July, smartphone apps account for 50 percent of U.S. users' time online, for the first time ever.

"While the smartphone app has been the most important access vehicle to the internet for some time," the firm wrote in a blog post on its website, "growing its share to a point where it now eclipses all other digital media platforms combined speaks to just how central to our lives the smartphone has become."

Indeed, it is a significant milestone in the mobile internet scene. Mobile apps became major players less than 10 years ago; both Google and Apple's app stores opened for business in 2008.

When combined with the mobile web -- using the phone's internet browser to access web pages -- smartphones' share of U.S. internet users' attention jumps to 57 percent, according to the company.

Compare that to computers, at 32 percent, and tablets, at 11 percent, and just how important smartphones have become to daily, online life becomes clear.

What's driving the explosive growth?

"As smartphone screens have gotten larger and as 4G LTE networks enable faster speeds," comScore explained, "there becomes even less of a reason to use other platforms such as desktop or tablets, save for specific tasks."

"The convenience factor is simply too powerful. You almost always have your smartphone on you and apps allow you to immediately access a service in one simple tap of the screen," the firm wrote.

But don't write off that laptop or iPad just yet. ComScore said that both computers and tablets will "maintain critical roles in consumers' online consumption for the foreseeable future."

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