Smartphone owners use their device’s location-aware capabilities a lot, and the number of these users will continue to grow as more and more people get smartphones.

As of February 2012, most – 74 percent – of U.S. smartphone owners get real-time location-based information on their phones, up from about half (55 percent) in May 2011, according to a new Pew Internet & American Life Project report. Combined with the growth in smartphone ownership, this means that the number of U.S. adults who get location-based information has almost doubled over that same time period (to 41 percent).

Check-in social services like Foursquare have grown too, and are now used by 18 percent of smartphone owners, up from 12 percent in May 2011.

“Smartphones’ geolocation abilities are clearly popular with their users, who can get the information they want exactly when and where they want it,” said Pew Internet research specialist and report author Kathryn Zickuhr. “It’s fascinating to watch how quickly smartphones owners are incorporating this type of real-time, location-specific information in their lives.”

She added that younger adults are more likely than their older counterparts to use the location capabilities of their smartphones.

The report also found that smartphone owners in lower-income households are less likely to use location-based information services, but interestingly they are more likely to use geosocial services.

To put these statistics into perspective, Pew Internet reports that almost half of U.S. adults (46 percent) now have smartphones, up from 35 percent in May 2011. Another two in five (41 percent) have more basic feature phones, and 12 percent of adults do not own a cell phone of any kind.

Related links:

Pew Internet – report summary

Pew Internet – press release