Many of the Android apps we recommend aren’t popular in the wider community. Of course, they’re all excellent—we wouldn’t suggest lousy apps—but often you can file them into the “niche” category.
For something different, let’s take a step back and look at some of the all-time most popular Android apps in the Google Play Store. These are the ones that Android’s 2.8 billion active users have downloaded most frequently.
A Note on Stock Android Apps
We’re not going to include apps that come pre-loaded on stock Android devices. This means we’re excluding Google Play Services (10 billion “downloads”), Gmail (9 billion), Google Maps (6.9 billion), YouTube (10 billion), and a few others.
We’ve used AndroidRank’s data to determine these numbers. The numbers in parentheses denote the placement change from March 2020, when we last updated this list.
1. Facebook (+1)
7.073 billion downloads
It’s not surprising to see Facebook as the world’s highest downloaded app. Despite seemingly endless scandals, questionable privacy practices, and the #DeleteFacebook movement, it still reigns supreme.
Not everyone is happy though, as this app has 76 million one-star ratings. Perhaps it’s justified; the app is bloated with pointless features that few people bother to use.
In July 2018, WhatsApp was third with 2.9 billion downloads. A year ago it had jumped into number one, but now it has slipped back down to second.
WhatsApp—which is the world’s most popular instant messaging tool—has been under Facebook’s ownership since a $19 billion buyout in early 2014. If you don’t fancy using a Facebook-owned app messaging app, try out one of the many WhatsApp alternatives.
TikTok’s ongoing growth shows no signs of abating. The app, which lets users create and share short video clips, became immensely popular during the first half of 2020 as the COVID crisis forced people to stay at home.
It broke one billion downloads in July 2019 and has more than doubled in the following two years.
And we’re already back to Facebook. The Lite version of the app is aimed at users with low-end devices (packing 1GB or 2GB of RAM) and those who only have access to 2G data networks. There are a few subtle usability changes, but all the main features are present and work as expected.
Instagram might be stealing all of Snapchat’s best features, but the latter still manages to rack up more than 280 million daily users, up from 240 million 12 months ago.
However, as a percentage of the total downloads on Android and iOS combined, that figure remains low. Is it time to start worrying about the app’s future or does the slight increase in rank point to a possible revival?
Netflix now has almost 210 million subscribers. It saw a massive boost throughout 2020, again, thanks to COVID. The service’s blend of original content and old favorites has proved to be a winning formula, and the growth is showing no signs of slowing down as we head through 2021.
It is the only video-on-demand streaming app to make the top 20.
Skype is a fallen giant. With the release of Windows 11, Skype is no longer pre-installed on the operating system for the first time in more than a decade. The business branch is shuttered from August 2021, and it appears that Microsoft Teams is now the company’s focus.
It’s perhaps surprising that it has taken until 2021 for Spotify to make the top 20.
It is yet another company that has benefitted enormously from the COVID pandemic, with paid users jumping from 130 million to 160 million over the last 12 months. Indeed, the number has more than doubled since early 2017.
Viber offers instant messaging, video calls, 250-person group chats, and encrypted communications. The app is one of the most popular WhatsApp alternatives in Europe and North America. Asian users still prefer LINE.
It is the first app on the list that hasn’t yet broken the one billion downloads mark.
LINE is the fourth-most popular instant messaging app on Android, behind WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger, and Viber.
Asia drives much of its popularity. It’s in the top five communications apps in Japan, Taiwan, Thailand, Cambodia, and Indonesia. The app struggles to make the top 30 in most European and North American countries, however.
The Most Popular Android Apps: How Many Do You Use?
So what have we learned from this tour through the 20 most popular Android apps as of July 2021? Our conclusions are thus:
Claims of Facebook’s demise are always premature.
Entertainment subscription services were the big winners; expect the trend to continue.
We finally lost Cheetah Mobile’s Clean Master. The app was as high as eighth in July 2018. If you’re still using it, we recommend uninstalling it now.
10 Popular Android Apps You Should NOT Install
These Android apps are extremely popular, but they also compromise your security and privacy. If you have them installed, you’ll want to uninstall them after reading this.
About The Author
Dan Price (1574 Articles Published)
Dan joined MakeUseOf in 2014 and has been Partnerships Director since July 2020. Reach out to him for inquires about sponsored content, affiliate agreements, promotions, and any other forms of partnership. You can also find him roaming the show floor at CES in Las Vegas every year, say hi if you’re going. Prior to his writing career, he was a Financial Consultant.