No Smart Phone Is an Island: The Impact of Places, Situations, and Other Devices on Smart Phone Use

Tara Matthews, Jeffrey Pierce, John Tang


We interviewed 21 people both before and after they acquired an iPhone 3G or T-Mobile G1 to assess how next-generation smart phones impact user behavior. We focused on exploring what motivates people to use their smart phones, what applications they use, what information they access or produce, when and for how long they interact with their phones, and how this usage relates to other tasks and devices. Our results suggest that the use of next-generation mobile phones depends heavily on contexts, particularly users' other devices and the places and situations users encounter. We observed that users employ their mobile phones in concert with, not independent of, their other computers. Rather than just mimicking desktop use, however, they employ their phones in different ways and for new tasks. The places and situations in which users employ their phones shape the tasks they undertake and how they make time to use their devices, fill idle time with them, or defer tasks to their other devices. We draw on our observations to offer design implications, focusing on how to support mobile phone use in the context of other devices and different places and situations.


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