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smartphone

If you had to pick a device that either had any native app you wanted other than a browser, or one that only had a browser and no other offline apps, which would you pick? Chances are, you’d pick the device with a browser. The internet’s a great place for reading, finding info, and social network, but it’s also many of our go-to way to stay productive and get entertainment. You can do anything in your browser, from playing Angry Birds to solving complicated integration problems in Wolfram Alpha.

Pretty soon, you might even be using your browser to dial phone numbers and take pictures, if Mozilla has its way. It’s working on an innovative browser-based phone OS called Boot to Gecko where everything you use in the whole device is coded in HTML5. It’s also working on a new cross-device apps marketplace to let you buy web-based apps that run and feel more like native apps.

Could something like this actually change the mobile app ecosystem?

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It seems hard to imagine that just 20 years ago the average person had never used the internet. Today, we’re expected to use the internet more and more for school, work, and keeping up with family and friends. Anytime we’re wondering about anything, most people do a quick Google search instead of pulling out a book or trying to remember the fact in question. Then, some of the best productivity tools and more are web apps, giving us even more reason to spend time online.

It’s easier than ever to stay online all the time, thanks to near-ubiquitous cellular internet connections and WiFi in most homes and businesses. Many places still don’t even have 3G coverage, and 4G seems to be a pipe dream for anyone outside of a major metroplex, but it seems increasingly difficult to find a place that doesn’t at least have GPRS coverage. Even if our internet speeds aren’t great, we feel compelled to get online everywhere, all the time.

The only problem is, data plans can get expensive. If you’ve got a laptop, tablet, and smartphone, most telcos want you to subscribe to 3 data plans, plus your standard home internet. Some areas have prepaid plans that can be used as needed, but most networks in the US require unlimited plans. Sometimes, it seems like it’d be easier to just rely on WiFi, and live without the internet otherwise.

So how about you? Do you pay for cell data plans, and if so, how much do you use it? Let us know in the poll, then share more details about how you get internet on the go in the comments below!