Most Popular Apps (2021)

David Curry

Updated: September 14, 2021

More-so than any other year, the most popular apps of 2020 truly reflect what happened in the world. Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams added hundreds of millions of users, as businesses, schools and friend groups went online to interact. 

TikTok accelerated past all other social apps, even as US President Donald Trump accused it of being a tool for the Chinese Communist Party. As expected, Facebook launched a TikTok clone on Instagram, Reels, as it did to curtail Snapchat’s growth in 2016. 

High risers like Uber, Airbnb and Tinder suffered from the coronavirus pandemic. With many countries halting air travel, closing entertainment venues and banning overnight stays, all three had to look at new ways to keep users on their platform. 

In Uber’s case, it has survived from the growth of Eats. Airbnb launched long-term rentals, although this seems like a short-term strategy to survive more than anything substantial. 

Among Us, a game which is made for Discord groups and Twitch livestreams, went from less than 1,000 monthly active players to over 300 million. Discord also noticed significant growth on PC and mobile, hitting 100 million active users. 

We have collected data and statistics on the most popular apps by country and by category. Read on below to find out more.

Most Popular Apps Key Statistics

  • TikTok was the most downloaded app globally in 2020, with 850 million downloads
  • Among Us was the most downloaded globally in 2020, with 285 million downloads
  • Four of the six most downloaded apps of 2020 were published by Facebook

Most Popular Apps by Country

In this section, we take a look at the most popular apps in each country. We cover global, Brazil, China, India, the United Kingdom and the United States.

Most Popular Apps 2020 (Global)

App Downloads 2020
TikTok 850 million
WhatsApp 600 million
Facebook 540 million
Instagram 503 million
Zoom 477 million
Messenger 404 million
Snapchat 281 million
Telegram 256 million
Google Meet 254 million
Netflix 223 million

Source: Apptopia

2020 was the year TikTok surged ahead of all other platforms, with 850 million downloads. TikTok does have the advantage of being available in China, as Douyin, which accounts for about a quarter of its downloads. None of the other apps on the list are available in China.

It was also the year of video conferencing, with Zoom seeing a 2000 percent growth year-on-year and Google Meet reaching the top ten. Facebook continues to dominate the social networking market, with WhatsApp, Instagram, Facebook and Messenger in the top 10.

Most Popular Apps 2020 (United States)

App Downloads 2020
TikTok 89 million
Zoom 81 million
Instagram 62 million
Messenger 61 million
Facebook 53 million
Cash App 52 million
Snapchat 51 million
Disney+ 45 million
WhatsApp 45 million
Netflix 45 million

Source: Apptopia

Even the US President claiming TikTok was a tool for the Chinese Communist Party could not halt its growth. Zoom, the second most popular app in 2020, has also come under fire for Chinese censorship.

The other two new entries are Square’s Cash App, which has seen monumental revenue growth since introducing Bitcoin early in 2020 and Disney+, which already has over 130 million subscribers worldwide.

Most Popular Apps 2020 (United Kingdom)

App Downloads 2020
TikTok 22 million
NHS Covid-19 20 million
Zoom 19 million
WhatsApp 18 million
Instagram 16 million
Microsoft Teams 14 million
Google Meet 12 million
YouTube 12 million
Snapchat 10 million
Facebook 10 million

Sources: Apple, SimilarWeb

Similar to the rest of the world, the UK was enraptured by TikTok in 2020. One difference in comparison to most countries is a significant portion of the country which downloaded the Covid-19 track and trace app, launched by the NHS in September. As the app was a gatekeeper for getting into pubs, the entire country jumped on it, with over 10 million downloads in the first three days.

Work-from-home and online teaching have led to three apps – Zoom, Microsoft Teams and Google Meet – hitting the top 10 most popular. Surprisingly, neither Disney+ or Netflix managed to crack the top ten.

Most Popular Apps 2020 (China)

App Monthly Active Users 2020
WeChat 1,027 million
Taobao 838 million
AliPay 801 million
QQ 750 million
Douyin 677 million
iQiyi 655 million
Pinduoduo 652 million
Tencent Video 538 million
Gaode Map 481 million
Baidu Map 449 million

Source: Statista

China is the outlier, with the Great Firewall blocking almost all of the apps built by US and European companies. WeChat has embedded itself into the Chinese society unlike any app in the West, and continues to expand its platform outward with the integration of Pinduoduo and DiDi.

As a side note, DiDi is not represented here as it does not reveal its monthly active users. Analysts have projected it to be in the 500 to 600 million range, and it has an internal target of 800 million by 2022.

Douyin, the Chinese version of TikTok, has seen decent growth in the past year, cementing ByteDance’s place as one of the four large tech companies in the country, the other three being Tencent (WeChat, QQ, Tencent Video), Alibaba (Taobao, AliPay, Gaode Map) and Baidu (iQiyi, Baidu Maps).

Most Popular Apps 2020 (India)

App Downloads 2020
Aarogya Setu 140 million
TikTok 120 million
WhatsApp 103 million
Zoom 95 million
Facebook 80 million
Messenger 78 million
Instagram 66 million
Google Meet 64 million
YouTube 50 million
Snapchat 42 million

Sources: BI India, Sensor Tower

TikTok was on track to hit 200 million downloads in India, however the government banned the app in July. Several clones have emerged to try and take TikTok’s place, however none hit the top ten list this year.

What’s surprising is the lack of Indian apps on the list. In past years, Flipkart, Hotstar, Zomato, Gaana Music have all hit the top five. Aarogya Setu is India’s contract tracing app, which is the most popular app of its kind worldwide.

Most Popular Apps 2020 (Brazil)

App Downloads 2020
Caixa Tem 111 million
TikTok 96 million
WhatsApp 94 million
Auxílio Emergencial 91 million
Instagram 75 million
YouTube 63 million
Zoom 50 million
Facebook 48 million
Google Meet 46 million
Messenger 42 million

Sources: Apple, ITSRio, SimilarWeb

Most Popular App by Category

In this section, we take a look at the ten most popular apps of the year by app category. All values are global unless stated otherwise and do not include downloads from third-party Chinese Android app stores.

Most Popular Games 2020

App Downloads 2020
Among Us 285 million
Subway Surfers 227 million
Garena Free Fire 218 million
PUBG Mobile 175 million
Gardenscapes 171 million
Roblox 158 million
Hunter Assassin 155 million
Tiles Hop 151 million
Join Clash 149 million
Brain Test 138 million

Source: Apptopia

Among Us is the runaway success story of 2020. After struggling to gain a following for two years, it went viral after several YouTube and Twitch streams from popular personalities, and hit 300 million monthly active users in October 2020.

PUBG Mobile fills the hole left by Fortnite, which exited the Apple and Google Play Store after Epic Games filed a lawsuit against both platform operators. Roblox also had a breakout year, and is expected to IPO in 2021.

Most Popular Social Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
TikTok 850 million
Facebook 540 million
Instagram 503 million
Snapchat 281 million
Pinterest 179 million
Twitter 119 million
BIGO Live 89 million
MX TakaTak 65 million
Josh Videos 58 million
Moj 55 million

Source: Apptopia

TikTok’s dominance can be felt across the top ten, as MX TakaTak and Moj are both clones of the short-video platform. Facebook also launched its own clone, Reels, on Instagram earlier this year.

The other big winner is Pinterest, which saw a massive uptick in users this year, with its stock price climbing over 260 percent since the start of 2020.

Most Popular Communication Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
WhatsApp 600 million
Zoom 477 million
Messenger 403 million
Telegram 256 million
Google Meet 254 million
Microsoft Teams 153 million
Discord 141 million
WhatsApp Business 113 million
WeChat 87 million
Imo 70 million

Source: Apptopia

Outside of the US, WhatsApp remains the most popular communication tool, although Telegram is establishing a strong foothold in Asia, Eastern Europe and the Middle East.

For businesses, Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams have broadened their services to enable teams to work from home. Discord has also attempted to rebrand itself as a communication tool for everyone, not just gamers.

Most Popular Entertainment Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
Netflix 233 million
YouTube 170 million
Amazon Prime Video 130 million
Disney+ 102 million
YouTube Kids 94 million
MX Player 82 million
Reface 75 million
Hotstar 62 million
ZEDGE Wallpapers 60 million
iQiyi 51 million

Source: Apptopia

Netflix continues to lead the way in subscription video streaming, with Money Heist, Tiger King and Queen’s Gambit all pulling in millions of new viewers. Disney+ is a definite competitor to Netflix and Prime Video, even with a smaller catalogue of video.

Even with over two billion monthly active users, YouTube saw 170 million downloads in 2020. Even though not on the list, TikTok has proven to be a fierce competitor for YouTube, and Google has responded by launching short-form videos on the platform.

Baidu’s iQiyi is on the top ten list, but if we had the values from China’s Android app market, we expect download figures would be at the 200 million mark. Similar for Tencent Video, which is the most popular video streaming service in China.

Most Popular Music & Audio Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
Spotify 211 million
YouTube Music 138 million
Shazam 77 million
SoundCloud 57 million
StarMaker 53 million
Amazon Music 51 million
DrumPad Machine 47 million
GroovePad 41 million
Gaana Music 38 million
Amazon Alexa 37 million

Source: Apptopia

YouTube Music looks to be Google’s first successful music streaming application, with over 30 million subscribers. Whether Google can continue to support to well is another question, the past decade of failed music and messaging apps makes it a hard sell. 

Spotify is still the most popular music streaming service with the most subscribers, accelerated by the company’s major investment in podcasting. It’s notable that Apple Music appears to have very little crossover to Android users. 

Most Popular Shopping Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
Amazon 169 million
Shopee 139 million
Wish 138 million
Shein 122 million
Pinduoduo 90 million
AliExpress 79 million
Flipkart 72 million
Lazada 69 million
Mercado Libre 56 million
eBay 51 million

Source: Apptopia

Amazon is the key e-commerce platforms in most countries outside of India and China. In India, Flipkart remains the most popular e-commerce platform, however the difference is less than 1 percent between the two e-commerce services.

Wish and Pinduoduo have shown that the e-commerce market is still open to new platforms. Both sacrifice delivery times and quality control for cost, and have drawn in hundreds of millions of customers.

Most Popular Food & Drink Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
Uber Eats 82 million
McDonalds 82 million
DoorDash 44 million
Foodpanda 35 million
Just Eat Takeaway 32 million
Starbucks 28 million
iFood 22 million
Zomato 20 million
Deliveroo 17 million
Grubhub 16 million

Source: Apptopia

Uber Eats lead is rather deceptive, as DoorDash, Foodpanda, Just Eat and iFood are only available in a select few countries. DoorDash is the lead food delivery platform in the United States, Just Eat in Europe, Foodpanda in South-east Asia and iFood in Brazil. However, in each region Uber Eats is the second largest platform, with more than 20 percent market share.

McDonalds and Starbucks, two of the most recognised food & drink brands, continue to add more features to their mobile apps. For more detailed analysis on the food delivery apps, read our sector profile.

Most Popular Travel Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
Uber 95 million
Google Maps 88 million
Google Earth 61 million
Booking.com 50 million
Airbnb 42 million
Grab 32 million
AutoNavi Maps 31 million
inDriver 27 million
Lyft 24 million
Hello Travel 23 million

Source: Apptopia

Travel apps have been neutered this year with the coronavirus pandemic halting transport and holidays. Uber and Lyft saw a 90 percent drop in usage in March and usage is still not near pre-pandemic levels. Airbnb and Booking.com faced similar losses, as several countries banned overnight stays and holidays. 

Even though it is not on here, Chinese ride hailing app DiDi said it was back to pre-pandemic usage levels in June.

Most Popular Education Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
Google Classroom 128 million
Duolingo 61 million
Photomath 48 million
Brainly 42 million
Cake 36 million
Kahoot! 25 million
U-Dictionary 23 million
Simply Piano 23 million
PictureThis 22 million
Qanda 16 million

Source: Apptopia

Around the world, teachers have had to adapt learning at all ages to online. Google Classroom, an app that lets teachers easily share files with students, saw over 100 million downloads in 2020. Other services, such as Blackboard, are not counted as one, as each institution publishes their own app.

Duolingo continues to be the most popular translation app, with 61 million downloads. It is expected to IPO either this year or next, after breaking the one million paid subscribers mark in 2020.

Most Popular Dating Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
Tinder 74 million
Badoo 44 million
Tantan 21 million
Bumble 19 million
MeetMe 17 million
WHO 16 million
Grindr 15 million
Happn 13 million
Plenty of Fish 12 million
Hily 11 million

Source: Apptopia

Even though dating apps have struggled to grow this year, Tinder still managed over 70 million downloads. It remains the most popular dating app in the world, although Badoo and Bumble are continuing to gain on Tinder in monthly active users.

Tantan, the Chinese dating app, appears to be doing well, although online dating is still a nascent industry in China.

Most Popular Health & Fitness Apps 2020

App Downloads 2020
Mi Fit 41 million
Home Workout 40 million
Lose Weight for Women 36 million
Calm 33 million
Flo 32 million
Six Pack in 30 Days 28 million
Lose Weight for Men 27 million
Strava 25 million
Muscle Booster 24 million
MyFitnessPal 23 million

Source: Apptopia

Four of the most popular fitness & health apps of 2020 were published by Leap Fitness Group, which are all run on a freemium model with minimal amounts of personalisation. 

Calm held a convincing lead against Headspace in the mental wellness category, with 33 million downloads to Headspace’s 17 million. 

The sale of MyFitnessPal by Under Armour for $130 million less than it paid five years ago indicates it has struggled to obtain new users, as can be noted by the 23 million total downloads over the year.

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