Carrying the momentum from 2020 was always going to be difficult for apps like Zoom, Google Meet and Microsoft Teams, which noticed rapid growth in 2020 as millions of businesses, schools and people adapted their workspace to a virtual environment.
However, while countries re-opened their offices, pubs and borders, the effects of the pandemic and the return of Covid through delta and omicron has led to continued use of these applications and the changes to how we work are likely to be the new normal.
Outside of the workplace, TikTok remained the most popular app worldwide for the second year in a row. It managed to divert a potential sale to Oracle and Walmart, with the Biden Administration reverting a previous order to sell the app authorized by President Trump.
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Its ban in India has led to a new segment of TikTok-like apps, vying to take the short-video crown in the country. Several of these apps have added over 50 million users this year alone, with TikTok reportedly missing out on a potential 250 million active users because of the ban.
Facebook still dominated total download charts, with four of the top 10 most downloaded apps published by the social network.
In a year when several app sectors saw five years growth in a few months, it is impressive that most managed to keep pace with 2020 downloads. Total downloads were down, with top apps like TikTok, Facebook and Snapchat losing over 100 million downloads in 2021.
Some newer categories, like cryptocurrency, saw much higher downloads and usage in 2021 than in the previous year. Others, such as travel, transport and dating, benefited from the opening up of tourism and hospitality.
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 2021, with 656 million downloads
- Among Us was the most downloaded globally in 2020, with 285 million downloads
- Four of the ten most downloaded apps of 2021 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 2021 (Global)
TikTok retained its spot as the most downloaded app in 2021, although total downloads decreased by 194 million in 2021. Facebook had three apps in the top five.
Most Popular Apps 2021 (United States)
TikTok remained the most popular app in the US as well, increasing its total downloads for the year by two million. Cash App is another 2021 success story, with more users and downloads than 2020, possibly due to the influx of new cryptocurrency buyers.
Most Popular Apps 2021 (United Kingdom)
Millions of Brits downloaded the NHS App in 2021 to access their Covid pass, which let them attend festivals, large events and go on holiday. TikTok dipped in popularity, and Microsoft Teams surpassed Zoom in total downloads.
Most Popular Apps 2021 (China)
WeChat is the most popular app in China, which acts as a home screen for Chinese phone users, with thousands of mini-programs loaded inside the app. Pinduoduo has seen the most growth from 2020 to 2021.
Most Popular Apps 2021 (India)
TikTok’s ban in India made way for several clones built by Indian developers, with MX TakaTak, Moj and Josh all competing for the short-video crown. Instagram is also competing with Reels, which it has marketed heavily in the country.
Most Popular Apps 2021 (Brazil)
Brazil had three primary apps in 2021: TikTok, Shopee and Kwai, which each had 70 million downloads. NuBank and PicPay fought for the title of #1 neobank in the country.
Most Popular App by Platform
In this section, we will cover the most popular apps on the two most popular mobile app stores: iOS and Google Play.
Most Popular iOS Apps 2021
TikTok was the most downloaded iOS app in 2021, with 276 million downloads. This was almost double second place Instagram.
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Most Popular Google Play Apps 2021
Instagram was the most downloaded Google Play app in 2021, surpassing TikTok by 13 million downloads.
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 2021
Subway Surfers reclaimed the title of most downloaded game in 2021, it has been a top five downloaded game every year since 2014. Roblox had more downloads than last year, while Among Us was downloaded about half as many times as in 2020.
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|Candy Crush Saga||119|
Most Popular Social Apps 2021
While the launch of Instagram Reels hasn’t slowed down TikTok, it made Instagram more popular, as one of the few social apps to see more downloads in 2021 than 2020.
Most Popular Communication Apps 2021
WhatsApp was the most downloaded communications app for the second year in a row. Telegram, considered the alternative WhatsApp for people fearful of tracking, gained a lot of new users after WhatsApp’s privacy change.
Most Popular Entertainment Apps 2021
Netflix has also retained its position as most downloaded entertainment app, although it had 60 million less downloads than in 2020. Disney+ surpassed Amazon Prime Video in downloads, and HBO Max entered the top 10.
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|Amazon Prime Video||120|
Most Popular Music & Audio Apps 2021
Spotify has new competition, in the form of TikTok-owned Resso, which is making waves in Latin America and India. It has already surpassed the downloads of YouTube Music, Amazon Music and SoundCloud.
Most Popular Shopping Apps 2021
Southeast Asian shopping apps dominated 2021, with Shein even breaking into US and European markets. These apps quickly produce items based on trends and sell at heavily discounted prices through flash sales and coupons, similar to Wish.
Most Popular Food & Drink Apps 2021
McDonalds surpassed Uber Eats to be the most downloaded food & drink app of 2021. The fast-food chain added more functionality to its app, in partnership with Uber and Just Eat Takeaway, to run delivery through it.
Most Popular Travel Apps 2021
Google Maps was the most downloaded travel app in 2021, which is perhaps a slight indication that we’re not fully out of lockdown, but are eagerly planning it out. Bolt and Grab both saw increases in downloads this year.
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Most Popular Education Apps 2021
Education apps have been downloaded fewer times in 2021 than 2020, as many schools transition back to face-to-face learning. Google Classroom is still the most popular app, but had 53 million less downloads in 2021.
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Most Popular Dating Apps 2021
Tinder is still the most popular dating app globally, with almost double the downloads of Badoo. CuteU, a real-time video matching app, saw the most growth in downloads in 2021.
|Plenty of Fish||11|
Most Popular Health & Fitness Apps 2021
Once again, Leap Fitness has multiple fitness apps in the top ten, with Home Workout, Six Pack in 30 Days and Lose Weight for Women all gaining more than 20 million downloads. Flo, a period tracking app for women, reached number one for the first time.
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Most Popular Money Transfer Apps 2021
PayPal remained the most popular money transfer app, with 106 million downloads. India’s mobile payment market is a three horse race, with Google Play slightly ahead of PhonePe in downloads and both far ahead of Paytm, considered by some to be the PayPal of India.
Most Popular Cryptocurrency Apps 2021
Binance remains the most popular cryptocurrency exchange by downloads, usage and volume. Crypto.com surpassed Coinbase in total downloads, although Coinbase still has more users.
Most Popular Apps of Previous Years
We have collected statistics of the most downloaded apps and games of previous years as well.
Most Popular Apps (2020)
Most Popular Games (2020)
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Most Popular Apps (2019)
Most Popular Games (2019)
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|Fun Race 3D||210|
|Color Bump 3D||205|
|My Talking Tom 2||162|
|Run Race 3D||158|