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  1. Purpose The purpose of this paper is to understand citizens' perceptions of smartphone-based city management apps and to identify facilitators and barriers that influence app adoption and use. An aim is to identify how current technology adoption theories might be expanded and enriched for studying citizen adoption of city apps in the US. Design/methodology/approach This paper presents a qualitative exploratory case study of citizen perceptions of city management apps in Tallahassee, a top-ranked digital city in the southeastern United States. The authors derive empirical data from focus group discussions with citizens using thematic analysis. Findings Overall, the findings suggest that city management apps are primarily perceived and used by citizens as handy and efficient tools for the provision of information and public services. The findings suggest that current technology adoption and use models applied to citizen adoption of m-government may benefit by being expanded for the US context. Originality/value This paper highlights what factors of m-government technology are effective, useful or inhibiting in citizens' lives from the perspective of a group of citizens in the southeastern US. Implications that might be learned for researchers and practitioners are discussed.