Messaging Apps Appeal to Smartphone OwnersIn today’s world, people — particularly young people — are continually finding and adapting new ways of communicating electronically to fit their needs. Case in point: 2015 marks the first time Pew Research Center has asked specifically about mobile messaging apps as a separate kind of mobile activity apart from cell phone texting. And already, according to a new survey, 36% of smartphone owners report using messaging apps such as WhatsApp, Kik or iMessage, and 17% use apps that automatically delete sent messages such as Snapchat or Wickr.

Both of these kinds of apps are particularly popular among young adults. Half (49%) of smartphone owners ages 18 to 29 use messaging apps, while 41% use apps that automatically delete sent messages. These apps are free, and when connected to Wi-Fi, they do not use up SMS (Short Messaging Service) or other data. Furthermore, they offer a more private kind of social interaction than traditional social media platforms such as Facebook or Twitter.

The results in this report reflect the noteworthy and rapid emergence of different kinds of communications tools serving different social needs. These new tools add to an already complex and varied terrain of online and mobile interaction.

Overall, this survey found that 85% of adults are internet users and 67% are smartphone users. Throughout this report, analysis is largely based on these groups.

Along with asking about usage of mobile messaging apps, the survey also tracked usage of a variety of social media platforms and online forums. Among the key findings:

Pinterest and Instagram Usage Doubles Since 2012, Growth on Other Platforms is Slower

The analysis in this report is based on telephone interviews conducted March 17, 2015 through April 12, 2015 among a national sample of 1,907 adults, 18 years of age or older, living in all 50 U.S. states and the District of Columbia. 672 respondents were interviewed on a landline telephone, and 1,235 were interviewed on a cell phone, including 730 who had no landline telephone. Of the full sample, 1,612 are internet users. The margin of sampling error for results based on the full sample is plus or minus 2.6 percentage points. Because many items were based on half samples, results based on internet users in this report have a margin of sampling error of either plus or minus 3.9 percentage points or plus or minus 4.0 percentage points. Results based on smartphone owners have a margin of error of plus or minus 4.6 percentage points. See the Methods section at the end of this report for more details.