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PORTLAND, OR, United States – What do you use your phone for most, and does it vary by the time of day? Now that our smartphones are *always* on us, it’s fun to analyze usage and how our social patterns fit into the new world of always being connected to our friends and the online world.

According to a recently unveiled survey from online analytics firm Flurry, we’re now sitting down with phones in hand during what used to be “prime-time” TV watching period here in the United States. In US households, the prime-time TV watching time is between 7:00 – 11:00 PM and this window of time has always been important to advertisers who want to reach potential customers.

By analyzing the in-app usage of 110,000 mobile apps and their usage, Flurry has tracked TV watching, Web usage and app usage throughout the day. Looking at users aged 15+, the percentage of relative mobile app usage is greater in the prime-time hours, reflecting the way traditional TV watching is combined with other activities on the phone.

To me, it is astounding to look at the sheer reach of mobile applications. Here in the US, one of the most popular show is American Idol and the season finale of this show, as pointed out by Flurry, draws around 20 million viewers. Looking at the mobile apps’ usage data, mobile applications draw more than 20 million U.S. consumers per hour, from 7 am to 11pm.

Different utility required different profiles?

So now that we’ve established that mobile app usage is huge during primetime hours, let’s did into how our smartphones are used. For me and my friends, I see daytime usage largely being around staying in touch. That is, through email/SMS and calling, we reach out to colleagues and friends and may look at Facebook to engage with friends. During the day, our phones are largely used for utility. Likewise, at night, our phones are used for fun. Through social networking, games, entertainment-focused services and looking at our favorite news, our usage changes in the evening to more of a leisure pattern.

Years ago, when I was a very happy user of the Nokia E71 smartphone, one of my main features I enjoyed was the profile switching capability. By using a toggle, I could change my phone’s homescreen, from backgrounds to application shortcuts and even email accounts. You see, in my case, I use my phone for both personal and work use, so during the workday, I want to stay abreast of my Exchange-based email where at night and on the weekend, I’m more interested in keeping an eye on my personal email and more social-networking focused applications.

How about you? I have two questions to pose to commenters below: 1) does your mobile usage pattern shift depending on the time of day and 2) would you (or do you) use profile switching as a result. For example, on the Nokia Lumia phones, a dream of mine would be to be able to switch the homescreen tiles depending on the time of day or other contexts.

image credit: OskayE71 Blog and Marcin Wichary