A Survey on mobile social networks: Applications, platforms, system architectures, and future research directions

Xiping Hu, Terry H.S. Chu, Victor C.M. Leung, Edith C.H. Ngai, Philippe Kruchten, Chun Bun Henry Chan

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

144 Citations (Scopus)


Mobile social networks (MSNs) have become increasingly popular in supporting many novel applications since emerging in the recent years. Their applications and services are of great interest to service providers, application developers, and users. This paper distinguishes MSNs from conventional social networks and provides a comprehensive survey of MSNs with regard to platforms, solutions, and designs of the overall system architecture. We review the popular MSN platforms and experimental solutions for existing MSN applications and services and present the dominant mobile operating systems on which MSNs are implemented. We then analyze and propose the overall architectural designs of conventional and future MSN systems. In particular, we present the architectural designs from two perspectives: from the client side to the server side, and from the wireless data transmission level to the terminal utilization level. We further introduce and compare the unique features, services, and key technologies of two generations of architectural designs of MSN systems. Then, we classify the existing MSN applications and propose one special form of MSN, i.e., vehicular social network, and demonstrate its unique features and challenges compared with common MSNs. Finally, we summarize the major challenges for on-going MSN research and outline possible future research directions.
Original languageEnglish
Article number6960871
Pages (from-to)1557-1581
Number of pages25
JournalIEEE Communications Surveys and Tutorials
Issue number3
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2015


  • application
  • Mobile social networking
  • opportunistic networks
  • platform
  • service
  • system architecture

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Electrical and Electronic Engineering


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