Wireless Social Networking

Discover how a smartphone can transform your online social life.

Sites like Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn and Google+ have moved social networking into the mainstream. Now users are turning to their cell phones to take their online social lives wherever they go.

Smartphones play a pivotal role in how people engage in social networking. According to Facebook's own statistics, 250 Million active users currently access the site from their mobile devices. What's more, these users are twice as active on the site then those who log in from PCs only. So what is a smartphone and what makes it such a powerful social networking device?

A smartphone is basically a cell phone with advanced computing functionality. Popular models include Blackberry, iPhone, WindowsMobile and Android devices. With PC-like features and speed, they are the ultimate social networking tool. Take, for example, dedicated computer-style ("QWERTY") keyboards. They're a must for common social networking tasks like updating your status, replying to posts and sending instant messages. Large high resolution screens and real Web browsers--two key smartphone features--let you view and navigate websites with ease.

Speed, too, is an important consideration. Smartphones' fast wireless networks (3- and 4G data speeds) and built-in WiFi make them well suited for social networking sites' multimedia-rich content. View photos, movie clips, video links and other bandwidth-heavy media just like you were on your PC. Finally, smartphone-specific software applications ("apps") make them the mobile devices to beat for social networking. All the leading networking sites, plus a host of third-party developers, offer dedicated apps for connecting to your social networks. Many of the apps are free and offer a level of simplicity that rivals the same experience on a desktop PC.

Not only are smartphones ideal for online social networking, they are in many ways more powerful a social networking device than any other. One obvious advantage a smartphone has over a PC is that it's always with you, giving you more opportunities to be "online." Checkout lines, waiting rooms and airport terminals suddenly become prime social networking opportunities thanks to your smartphone. When you have only a quick moment to check friends' updates or post your own, social networking apps give you nearly instant access to your online profile. With their clean, easy-to-use interfaces and full functionality, you may prefer your smartphone app over your PC.

Another great benefit of social networking on your smartphone is being able to share your life and experiences (you know, the whole point of social networking) in real time. For instance, snap a picture or video with the phone's built-in camera and within seconds broadcast it to your online network.

Finally, almost all smartphones feature built-in GPS to pinpoint your location. Handset manufacturers and application developers are just beginning to unleash the potential of location-based social networking. Several new apps give you the ability to use your location to find nearby friends, colleagues or fellow social networkers, "geotag" your updates and photos and share information about your surroundings. The possibilities of location-based social networking are endless: get alerted when you come in proximity to friends and contacts in your network, track down a colleague on a busy trade show floor or find nearby friends who might be able to meet up for coffee.

Portability, QWERTY keyboards, larger screens and location-based services make smartphones the ultimate social networking tool.

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