Understanding Tablet Use: A Multi-Method Exploration
Hendrik Muller ¨
76 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011
Jennifer L. Gove
1600 Amphitheatre Parkway
Mountain View, CA 94043
John S. Webb
76 9th Ave
New York, NY 10011
Tablet ownership has grown rapidly over the last year. While market research surveys have helped us understand the demographics of tablet ownership and provided early insights into usage, there is little comprehensive research available. This paper describes a multi-method research effort that employed written and video diaries, in-home interviews, and contextual inquiry observations to learn about tablet use across three locations in the US. Our research provides an in-depth picture of frequent tablet activities (e.g., checking emails, playing games, social networking), locations of use (e.g., couch, bed, table), and contextual factors (e.g., watching TV, eating, cooking). It also contributes an understanding of why and
how people choose to use tablets. Popular activities for tablet use, such as media consumption, shopping, cooking, and productivity are also explored. The ﬁndings from our research provide design implications and opportunities for enriching
the tablet experience, and agendas for future research.
Tablet; mobile devices; diary study; video diary; contextual inquiry; ﬁeld interviews; user requirements
ACM Classiﬁcation Keywords
H.5.m. Information interfaces and presentation (e.g., HCI):
The emergence of tablet computers (tablets) have provided a
new device format for users to enjoy access to a wide variety of digital experiences and information. People search the internet, they communicate with friends, they download mobile applications (apps) so that they can access everyday information, they watch videos, and they play games on their tablets. Existing insights into tablet ownership and use are available primarily through market research studies. Pew Internet has
been measuring tablet ownership since May of 2010, when it
recorded US ownership at 3% . By August 2010, their
survey showed that ownership had grown to 10% . More
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MobileHCI’12, September 21–24, 2012, San Francisco, CA, USA. Copyright 2012 ACM 978-1-4503-1105-2/12/09...$10.00.
recently tablet ownership has risen sharply, to 19% of the US population . The prominence of tablet devices is also re- ﬂected in the level of app usage, with 75% of those (8% of all US adults) having downloaded an app to their device, and 38% reporting using six or more apps per week . Aside
from this body of market research, there is little other published research available on tablet use at this time. Given this lack of information about tablet use, our goals
were to provide a detailed picture of how people are using
tablets today. We investigated when, where, why, and how
people interact with content on their tablets. We explored
activities including, but not limited to, media consumption, shopping, cooking, and productivity. Our research that employed a combination of diary study, interview, and observational methods took place in September and October of 2011, with 33 participants across three locations in the US.
While little has been published around how consumers use
tablets, it is important to note that over the past few years there has been substantial research conducted around how
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