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Top Downloaded Mobile Apps of 2021 [Global Stats]

Abhinav Girdhar
By Abhinav Girdhar | Last Updated on October 17th, 2023 11:19 am | 10-min read
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Apps and algorithms rule our lives and we seem to use an app for all possible tasks, big or small. Mobile apps have managed to percolate into our lives for personal and work reasons alike. There, in fact is an app for everything today!

It is only natural that mobile apps have become one of the biggest, most elaborate consumer ecosystems around and it is expected that the worldwide mobile app economy is all set to reach $6.3 trillion by the year 2021.

Sensor Tower recently conducted a survey and came up with a report on the most downloaded mobile apps last year and we have the list of the top 20 right here for you!

An interesting observation, we made while exploring this list is that there are some new entrants who are rising up the list that threaten the dominating players on the chart. Whether these new entrants can retain their growth and place among the chart toppers, only time will tell.

Chart Toppers in the App Ecosystem

The app ecosystem is growing at an impressive pace and as per the report, the number of app downloads in the year 2019 grew to 115 billion. Among the top 5 mobile apps on the list, 4 belong to the social media giant Facebook viz. WhatsApp, Messenger, Facebook, and Instagram.

Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

In fact, for the fourth consecutive year, WhatsApp has been at the top of the list. Put together, the BIG Four account for 16 billion downloads – impressive isn’t it?

On the other hand, Likee – the video creation app sits on the 6th position with 330 million downloads.

Mobile apps climbing up the ranks!

TikTok is one of the most noticeable names on the list and has officially gone viral making $177 million last year (2019). This is even more impressive when you consider that this is more than five times what the app made in 2018!

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TikTok is owned by the Chinese technology firm – ByteDance which is the most valuable private company in the world today. Interestingly, 78% of the app’s total revenue in Q4 2019 was from China.

Industry types that are breaking through to the top of the charts:

Video Streaming Apps

In the top 20 list furnished by the report, just but one video streaming app has managed to breakthrough. However, with the recent launch of the Disney streaming app, things may change soon.

The imminent rise of Disney+ is not a mere speculation. Though it was launched only in November 2019, Disney+ is already the 2nd most popular new app in 2019! Here are some fun stats for you –

  • The app generated a revenue of $50 million in just one month.
  • Disney+ acquired 34% of all streaming app downloads in less than three months – that’s 30 million subscribers.
  • In the short while that the app has been live, Disney+ has reached half of Netflix’s 60 million U.S. subscribers. This surpasses Hulu and Amazon Prime for the entire 2019.

Gaming Apps

More than 2.4 billion people were playing mobile games in 2019, which indicates that gaming and gaming apps are all set to become important players in the app ecosystem.

Call of Duty and Mario Kart are two popular console franchises to enter the mobile gaming world and have already become two of the most successful games.

With over 170 million downloads all over the world, the free version of the mobile game Call of Duty had the 2nd best quarter among all the mobile games ever to be launched. The best quarter belonged to Pokémon Go with more than 300 million installs in a quarter, when it was launched (in 2016).

Countries that lead in the mobile app ecosystem

The economical aspect of the app ecosystem is boosted by the emerging markets particularly China, India, Brazil, and Russia. Two major contributing factors for this are greater internet speeds and increasing rate of smartphone adoption.

2021-Apps-by-Worldwide-Downloads - Appypie

India particularly is way up the curve due to its increasing digitization. In the last quarter of 2019, India saw about 5 billion app installs, much ahead of the U.S. which saw 3 billion installs in the same time frame.

This may be due to the fact that about half of the Indian population is under the age of 25, hence more plugged in to new technologies.

Top 20 downloaded apps in 2019

  1. WhatsApp
  2. The leader in their arena, WhatsApp is the global leader whether it is about market penetration or about user engagement. This has been established by the information we shared with you earlier on in this post.

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    WhatsApp is a wildly popular mobile text messaging app that is designed for smartphone and tablet users enabling them to send text messages and make voice or video calls using internet (Wi-Fi or cellular data networks).

    Part of its charm is that the messaging app is really easy to understand and has a ‘no frills’ design in contrast to some of the other messaging apps that can overwhelm the users.

    Salient Points

    • Lets you make a Voice or Video Call.
    • Lets you have group conversations for up to 250 people.
    • Enable with End to End Encryption.
    • Lets you exchange files up to 100MB in size.
    • Offers an ad free experience.
    • Lets you share your location making it possible to view the current & live location without navigating out of the app as the map feature is built into the app.
    • Lets you send voice recordings in the form of little voice snippets instead of texting.

  3. TikTok
  4. A phenomenon that went viral, TikTok is a video sharing social networking app. Owned by the Chinese company ByteDance, TikTok can be used to create short lip-sync comedy and talent videos. It was the most downloaded app in the US in October 2018 and was the first ever Chinese app to do so.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    The app users can create a short video with the option to use music or other audio in the background. These videos can be edited to go faster, run slower or tweaked with a filter for desired effects.

    Salient Points

    • Lets users create short videos with desired effects.
    • Users can shoot, edit and share 15 second videos.
    • Lets users share their videos and interact with other content.
    • Lets users follow other users on the app.
    • Lets users ‘React’ to their friends’ videos by filming their reaction to it.
    • Lets users make their accounts ‘private’ blocking other users on TikTok from viewing their content.
    • Lets users set individual videos to ‘public’, ‘friends only’ or ‘private’, irrespective of their accounts’ privacy settings.
    • Gives the users a feed of recommended videos to users based on their previous in-app actions through the ‘for you’ section.
    • Lets users ‘save’ videos, hashtags, filters and sounds. This section is visible only to the user so that they can refer back to it later.
    • The app employs artificial intelligence to analyze users’ interests through their interactions with the app content and show personalized feed to every user.

  5. Messenger
  6. Facebook Messenger app which was separated from the social networking app Facebook in 2014.

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    Salient Points

    • Lets you use the app on desktop, independent of Facebook.
    • Lets you send & request money.
    • Lets you play video chat AR games with friends without navigating out of the app.
    • Lets you chat with the bots.
    • Lets you hold secret conversations that are encrypted.
    • Integrates with a bunch of third-party apps letting you share your travel plans with Kayak, or recipes from the Food Network, and more!.
    • Lets you make voice & video calls and even send audio recordings instead of plain old boring texting.

  7. Facebook
  8. A social media and networking service, Facebook is more than an app. It is interesting to note that it started as a website that only allowed Harvard students to become members. In 2006, the network was opened to everyone over the age of 13.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Lets users explore the posts and content shared in their extended network through News Feed.
    • Lets users add friends with the option to “unfriend” them anytime later.
    • Timeline feature shows the content posted by a user in chronological order and is visible to all other users who can view the profile.
    • Lets users ‘Like’ or react to other content and even comments with a range of emojis including “Love”, “Ha Ha”, “Wow”, “Sad”, or “Angry”.
    • Lets users comment on posts using text, emojis, stickers, or even GIFs.
    • Lets users form open or closed groups on the platform and hold discussions or post relevant comment with moderators to keep a check on the content.
    • Lets users create pages or stores on Facebook, to promote their stores or services.
    • Lets users post photos and videos.
    • Lets users post stories that disappear after 24 hours.

  9. Instagram
  10. Often called IG or Insta in popular culture, Instagram is a photo and video sharing social network that shot to popularity because of the filters it offered. The platform stood apart because of the framing restriction of 1:1 proportion it imposed on the content.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Lets users edit images and videos with filters, text, drawing and more.
    • Lets users tag relevant locations while posting content.
    • Allows the users to message other users privately.
    • Lets users “Heart” others’ content and comment.
    • Allows users to live stream videos, add stories that disappear after 24 hours.
    • Lets users communicate through group messaging and tag others with @ mentions.
    • Lets users add unlimited text content to the post and add up to 30 hashtags.
    • Allows the users to choose between making their profiles public or keeping them private.
    • Lets people add long form videos through IGTV.

  11. Likee
  12. Launched as Like, Likee is one of the most popular original video creation and sharing network all over the world. The app shot to fame as it let the users create short videos with great ease and has thousands of stickers and filters to explore.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Lets users add closed captions to their videos.
    • Lets users add friends by social network.
    • Lets users make creative videos using music Magic filters and stickers.
    • The Superme feature on the app lets the users make blockbuster videos.
    • Using the AI empowered FaceMagic feature, users can swap faces on the app.
    • The app also offers original entertainment and knowledge-based content.
    • Apart from creating short videos and holding live broadcast, users can share content and connect with regular people and celebrities alike.

  13. SHAREit
  14. SHAREit is the 7th most downloaded app in the world! The app lets you transfer files including photos, videos, music, contacts, apps or any other files. The app works smoothly with Android, iOS, Windows devices and lets you transfer files directly across these platforms.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Lets users transfer content 200 times faster than while using Bluetooth.
    • Lets the users access unlimited online videos and music.
    • Lets the users consume video and music content with an integrated video and music player.
    • The app supports transfer of all types of files.
    • The app is compatible with all major platforms including Android, iOS, and Windows.

  15. YouTube
  16. At the top of the list in its niche, YouTube is the most popular video-sharing platform. The platform was acquired by Google in 2005. The platform lets users upload, view, rate, and share videos.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient points

    • Lets users upload, view, share and rate videos.
    • Lets users comment on videos.
    • Lets users subscribe to channels and create a playlist.
    • Lets publishers add closed caption.
    • Lets viewers save videos to ‘Watch Later’ playlist.
    • Lets publishers live stream videos.
    • Explore ample free content and download your favorite music and video content.
    • Users can embed YouTube content on their own blog or websites.
    • Lets publishers create and edit annotations.
    • Lets publishers add audio tracks to their videos.

  17. Snapchat
  18. The original proponents of the disappearing posts, Snapchat is known for letting you send multimedia messages that self-destruct after the time you set it up for. It is the ephemeral nature of the posts on this platform that not just made the app popular, but also wildly popular (especially among the millennials).

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    Salient Features

    • Lets you send photos & short videos.
    • Lets you make phone calls & video calls.
    • Offers regular text messaging.
    • Lets you store private photos.
    • Offers entertaining engagement with use of filters, effects, and drawings or illustration.
    • Enjoys a massive user base.
    • Lets you scan QR codes.

  19. Netflix
  20. Netflix is a subscription-based streaming service that offers online streaming of films and television programs plus a whole lot of original content. What began as a DVD rental and sales service through mail, evolved into one of the largest streaming media services.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Shows suggestions or makes recommendations based on the ‘Thumbs Up’ or ‘Thumbs Down’ you give to the titles you watched.
    • Allows users to create separate profiles, for better recommendations.
    • Offers 4 staggered levels of kids’ content profiles.
    • Lets users add titles to ‘My List’ section that can hold up to 500 titles.
    • Offers the users an option to turn the autoplay option on or off to prevent them from spiraling down into a binge-watch session.
    • Allows users to download shows to watch later when there is no network.

  21. UC Browser
  22. A web browser developed by UCWeb, UC Browser has gained more popularity than Google Chrome in the emerging markets of Asia, including India and Indonesia. Though it started off as a J2ME only application, it is now available on almost all the major platforms including Android, Blackberry OS, iOS, Java ME, Symbian, Windows Phone, and Microsoft Windows.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Allows the users to search for and share funny videos, status videos, trending videos and more.
    • It is known particularly for faster downloads, saving data, and ad-blocking functionality.
    • Allows users to access music, video and cricket information.

  23. Spotify
  24. Spotify app is the most popular audio streaming platform and offers DRM protected music, videos and podcasts. The app works on a freemium model where all the basic features are available for free, but some advanced features are available in the paid version.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Allows users to access music, videos, and podcasts from record labels and music companies.
    • Allows users to share music on their social media profiles.
    • Alerts users about concerts happening around them.
    • Offers radio stations for particular artists, albums, or tracks.
    • Offers data saver option to the app users so that they can alter music quality and save data usage.
    • Allows users to beam their music to a wide range of devices without having to switch apps.
    • Allows users to mute certain artists by choosing ‘Don’t play this artist’.

  25. YouTube Music
  26. YouTube Music is a free music streaming service from YouTube and is particularly popular because of the tailored interface it offers letting users explore songs and music videos based on genres, playlists, and recommendations.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Offers you easy and ready access to official song audio and videos in one place.
    • The sheer amount of music that YouTube Music offers is unparalleled.
    • Offers music recommendations with its “Up Next” feature.
    • Allows users to search for music by entering only partial lyrics or descriptions of videos.

  27. PicsArt
  28. PicsArt is a powerhouse app that has image editing, photo backdrop remover, collage creation, and drawing abilities in addition to being a social network on its own. The app is available for all major operating devices including Android, iOS and Windows mobile.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Allows users to edit images.
    • Allows the users to create collages and drawings.
    • Allows the users to share the content they created with other users on the platform.
    • Offers features like motion blurs, special effects or FX, sketch, masks, texts, video or GIFs, multiple layers and more.
    • It also offers its users, AI powered photo effects.

  29. Uber
  30. Uber is an app-based ride-hailing company that offers a bouquet of services including peer to peer ridesharing, ride service hailing, food delivery, and a micromobility system with electric two wheelers. This ride-sharing service managed to capture 67% of the market share in the US by early 2019.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Allows users the flexibility to book their rides immediately or schedule it for a later time.
    • Lets the app users track their drivers in real-time so that they know exactly where the driver is, and how long they will take to reach the pickup point.
    • As a safety feature, the app lets the users share their ride details so that someone you know can track your ride.
    • Lets users choose their preferred way to make payments for each ride.
    • Lets users add multiple drop off points on the route.
    • Allows the users to rate and review the drivers they rode with.
    • Allows the users to call the drivers without leaving the app.
    • Offers the users an option to pool.
    • Lets the users split fares.

  31. Wish
  32. Wish is an online e-commerce platform that facilitates transactions between sellers and buyers. The app is unique in the way it personalizes shopping visually instead of relying on the conventional use of search bar. Wish, essentially acts as the platform for selling and doesn’t stock anything, nor does it get involved in the return process. The app was started as ContextLogic in 2010 before being launched as Wish in 2011.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Lets the sellers list their products on the platform and sell directly to the consumers.
    • Eliminates the distributors from the supply chain, selling directly to the consumers, thus lowering the prices.
    • Users can create an account on the Wish app, and only after registering would they be able to browse.
    • Allows the users to write reviews and put up pictures of the products they received.
    • Since the items are shipped directly from the manufacturers, who are often overseas, the delivery times can be pretty long for those accustomed to Amazon and the likes.

  33. Amazon
  34. Founded in 1994 by Jeff Bezos, Amazon is the world’s largest online marketplace today. The company started off as an online marketplace for books and gradually started selling for other categories as well, including electronics, software, video games, apparel, furniture, food, toys, lifestyle accessories and more.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Lets users create profiles and wish lists.
    • Offers recommendations based on your buying behavior.
    • Tells the users whenever there is a price drop on the items on their wish lists.
    • Allows users to Ask Alexa and find, reorder, and track items.
    • Sends out real-time notifications to help users track their orders.
    • Lets users create and find a baby or wedding registry.
    • Offers 1-click ordering.
    • Allows users to scan item barcodes and images to compare prices and check availability.
    • Lets users share product links using emails or other social media channels.
    • Allows users to send Amazon gift cards.

  35. Helo
  36. A social app from Helo Holdings Ltd. is popular for sharing viral content and daily news. Essentially a video sharing platform lets you make money by becoming a Helo distributor while using the app for entertainment.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Allows the users to create profiles on the app and join the social network.
    • Lets the users download any video on the platform for free.
    • Allows the users to share content on other social media.
    • Allows the users to comment on others’ posts and even repost easily.
    • Allows the users to sign in through multiple methods including phone, social media and Google.
    • Lets the users add fun effects and beauty filters.
    • Allows the users to add polls and conduct fun surveys.

  37. Hotstar
  38. Hotstar is an OTT or over-the-top streaming app that gained popularity because of the live streaming coverage of sports including cricket, football, and kabaddi. The app has some great original content and offers live streaming of events.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Offers Live TV streaming.
    • Works great even in low connectivity.
    • Allows users to download content that can be viewed even when there is no connectivity.
    • Offers the freemium model where some content is available for free, but access to the rest of the content is available after subscription.
    • Multilingual content is available for the users.
    • Lets users skip intro on TV series, letting you ignore the theme song and watch the real action directly.
    • Allows users to create a wishlist by adding programs or movies to it and watch them later.
    • Makes recommendations to the users on the basis of their viewing history and preferences.
    • Lets the users download content and stored for 48 hours, after which it is removed automatically.

  39. Twitter
  40. A microblogging and social networking service,Twitte is used for posting and interacting with what is known as “Tweets” which can contain just text, or a combination or text, emojis, links, images, and even short videos.

    Top Downloaded Mobile Apps

    Salient Points

    • Allows the app users to create “Tweets” containing text, images, short videos, GIFs or a combination of any of these.
    • Allows users to create content within 280-character limit.
    • Allows users to group posts together under topics or types by adding a hashtag.
    • Allows users to mention other Twitter users or reply to them with the “@” symbol preceding their handle.
    • Twitter Lists lets the users to follow ad hoc Twitter users instead of following them individually.
    • Users can use SMS to communicate with Twitter.
    • As an accessibility feature, Twitter lets uses add captions to their images so that visually impaired people can understand what the image is all about.
    • Users get to see the trends under the “Trending Topics” section according to their country of choice or worldwide trends.
    • Allows the users to curate tweets from other users and create a bigger Tweet collection with their “Moments” feature.
    • Displays the verified accounts.
    • Lets the users hold polls or surveys.

Concluding thoughts on the Economy of the App Ecosystem

There is big buzz around the app ecosystem and its economics. The fun thing, however, is that it is still in a nascent phase while showing big potential for growth. There are multiple ways to monetize an app and the consumer spend on apps is increasing exponentially.

It is this upward trend that indicates the possibility of the app market surpassing the trillion-dollar barrier in revenue.

Have you created your app yet? Did you know that you can create an app without coding? Get started with Appy Pie and create your own app now!

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Abhinav Girdhar

Founder and CEO of Appy Pie

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