The most popular apps of our time

Facebook? Pokémon GO? Candy Crush? Find out where your favourite app ranks...
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The most popular apps of our time

Which app do Brits love and use the most?

Apps have become such an integral part of our lives that it's hard to believe they've been with us for less than a decade. When Apple launched the App Store in 2008, with Android Market quickly following suit, it marked the beginning of a whole new relationship with our smartphones.

With a massive galaxy of apps to choose from, smartphones evolved from communication devices into life companions. Whether you want to stream your favourite music, search for the latest videos, catch up with social media or while away a train journey with a game, the old slogan is truer than ever: there's an app for that.

In our latest infographic, Carphone Warehouse worked with HTC to delve deeper into our connections with apps. Using a survey of 1,000 UK adults combined with other research, we found that the average Brit uses an app within 32 minutes of waking up – the most popular being Facebook, with 22% of users checking their feeds before looking at any other app.

Brits will go on to use apps at least eight times on average throughout the day, and typically have around 20 apps installed on their smartphones at any time. And with around 2.8 million apps to choose from on the Google Play store today – compare that to a paltry 16,000 in 2009 – there's more choice than ever before.

Our research found that while the popularity of certain apps comes and goes, others remain firm favourites year after year. Apps are subject to the fickle whims of the public just like any other form of media, and what's hot one day can quickly become forgotten as the market moves on.

15 minutes of fame

Take Pokémon Go for example - while the free-to-play AR game dominated headlines for months last summer, the app proved to have very little sticking power. Despite surpassing even app store titans like Candy Crush in 2016 in terms of installs, Pokémon Go's daily users – which peaked at 28.5 million in July 2016 – dwindled to around 5 million over the course of 6 months.

In general, the games category is very volatile, and while established series like Candy Crush and Angry Birds regularly place highly on the lists, there's always another craze around the corner ready to topple the biggest names.

The world of social media is much more stable due to having fewer contenders in the field. Despite seeing a slow decline in installs over the years, Facebook (along with its companion Messenger) is still the undisputed king of the social networks – although newer apps like Instagram and Snapchat are making impressive gains, spending four and three years in the top 10 charts respectively.

Where do we get our news?

Another interesting story in the app world is how they're changing the way we consume media. While we're long past the days of having to buy a newspaper to catch up on world events, it wasn't until fairly recently that people began turning to apps rather than websites as a news source.

However, our research found that around three in five people now use apps to check the news and weather, and because only around 10% report using apps like BBC News for this, this suggests that social networks like Facebook and Twitter are fast becoming the preferred source of news. This trend has caused headaches for Facebook in recent times, with the social network being forced to take action against ‘fake news’ that impacted election campaigns around the world in 2016.

And it's not just news. Around a third of people now use apps to watch TV and films, a trend that could shake up terrestrial television models if it continues to grow. A few years ago, streaming a whole movie on your phone would be unthinkable. Now, however, thanks to larger and sharper displays and more generous bandwidth offered by 4G, apps like Netflix can thrive just as much on people's phones as they do on their TVs.

This is just a snapshot of the fast-paced world of apps, and if experience is any guide there's sure to be many stories ahead as phones become more powerful and app makers continue to innovate. Check out our handy infographic below for more information...

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