Ina Fried

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Upstart WhatsApp Among List of Most Popular Data-Using iPhone Apps

A new list of the top five iPhone data-using iPhone apps contains several names you would expect to see — Facebook, Twitter, Skype and Shazam — as well as one name you may have never heard of.

Coming in at No. 2 on the list is a paid text messaging program called WhatsApp. But the program has quietly become a hit by allowing smartphone owners to replace pricey text messages with essentially free messaging using one’s already paid-for data plan. WhatsApp isn’t the only app to do this, but it is one of the more popular.

“It was very interesting to see just how popular they really are,” said Guy Rosen, CEO of Onavo, who compiled the list. Onavo offers a piece of software that allows smartphone owners to see which apps are consuming the most data on their devices.

WhatsApp estimates it now handles about 1.1 billion text messages per day via its apps, which run on the iPhone, Android, Windows Phone, BlackBerry and Symbian.

“That’s a testament to the quality of the experience we are building and how much our users like to engage on a daily basis,” CEO Jan Koum said in an interview.

Facebook topped Onavo’s list, appearing on 90 percent of iPhones using its app. WhatsApp was second, on 38 percent of devices, followed by Twitter at 27 percent, Skype at 21 percent and Shazam, which was on 18 percent of iPhones.

The list obviously could skew to the kind of users that install Onavo’s data-measuring app — probably heavy data users worried about going over their plan’s limits. Also, the list excludes games, the iPhone’s built-in apps as well as programs that don’t make use of cellular data.

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Another gadget you don’t really need. Will not work once you get it home. New model out in 4 weeks. Battery life is too short to be of any use.

— From the fact sheet for a fake product entitled Useless Plasticbox 1.2 (an actual empty plastic box) placed in L.A.-area Best Buy stores by an artist called Plastic Jesus