NEWS13 December 2010

Comms experts launch Android usage app to replace ‘problematic’ self-reports

North America Technology

US— An assistant professor from Rutgers School of Communications and Information and a counterpart from Tokyo’s National Institute for Informatics have teamed up to launch a mobile phone app for the Android operating system that promises to give researchers better insight into users’ communication habits.

Jeffrey Boase (pictured right) and Tetsuro Kobayashi said the Communication Explorer app anonymously collects data from handsets, eliminating the need for researchers to ask users how, why and how frequently they use their phones through self-reports, which the duo said can be “problematic”.

Boase said that self-reporting “is not a bad start, but there is a lot of reason to question that method. We wanted to get at the validity of self-report measures. We can compare the data from this app to actual activity… it will address a lot of the research that is out there – how valid it is and how much we can trust those results.”

The app records times and date and the types of communication the handset is used for. All data is encrypted and, the two professors say, there is no way to identify specific users from the collected information.

Users do have to complete an initial survey, and there are also daily pop-up questions presented through the app.