Evidence to support common application switching behaviour on smartphones

Liam D. Turner*, Roger M. Whitaker, Stuart M. Allen, David E. J. Linden, Kun Tu, Jian Li, Don Towsley

*Corresponding author for this work

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review


We find evidence to support common behaviour in smartphone usage based on analysis of application (app) switching. This is an overlooked aspect of smartphone usage that gives additional insight beyond screen time and the particular apps that are accessed. Using a dataset of usage behaviour from 53 participants over a six-week period, we find strong similarity in the structure of networks built from app switching, despite diversity in the apps used, and the volume of app switching. App switch networks exhibit small-world, broad-scale network features, with a rapid popularity decay, suggesting that preferential attachment may drive next-app decision-making.

Original languageEnglish
Article number190018
Pages (from-to)1-9
Number of pages9
JournalRoyal Society Open Science
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - Mar 2019


  • network science
  • smartphone
  • smartphone apps
  • human behaviour

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