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 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)
|Google Meet||254 million|
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)
|Cash App||52 million|
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)
|NHS Covid-19||20 million|
|Microsoft Teams||14 million|
|Google Meet||12 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|
|Tencent Video||538 million|
|Gaode Map||481 million|
|Baidu Map||449 million|
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)
|Google Meet||64 million|
|Aarogya Setu||63 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 Indian citizens are supposed to use when accessing public transport.
Most Popular Apps 2020 (Brazil)
|Caixa Tem||120 million|
|Auxílio Emergencial||80 million|
|Google Meet||50 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
|Among Us||285 million|
|Subway Surfers||227 million|
|Garena Free Fire||218 million|
|PUBG Mobile||175 million|
|Hunter Assassin||155 million|
|Tiles Hop||151 million|
|Join Clash||149 million|
|Brain Test||138 million|
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
|BIGO Live||89 million|
|MX TakaTak||65 million|
|Josh Videos||58 million|
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
|Google Meet||254 million|
|Microsoft Teams||153 million|
|WhatsApp Business||113 million|
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
|Amazon Prime Video||130 million|
|YouTube Kids||94 million|
|MX Player||82 million|
|ZEDGE Wallpapers||60 million|
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
|YouTube Music||138 million|
|Amazon Music||51 million|
|DrumPad Machine||47 million|
|Gaana Music||38 million|
|Amazon Alexa||37 million|
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
|Mercado Libre||56 million|
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
|Uber Eats||82 million|
|Just Eat Takeaway||32 million|
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
|Google Maps||88 million|
|Google Earth||61 million|
|AutoNavi Maps||31 million|
|Hello Travel||23 million|
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
|Google Classroom||128 million|
|Simply Piano||23 million|
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
|Plenty of Fish||12 million|
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
|Mi Fit||41 million|
|Home Workout||40 million|
|Lose Weight for Women||36 million|
|Six Pack in 30 Days||28 million|
|Lose Weight for Men||27 million|
|Muscle Booster||24 million|
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.