Pandemic sparks dramatic rise in app use, report says


Restrictions relating to the coronavirus pandemic greatly accelerated mobile app usage in 2020 – particularly among older users, a new report says.

The annual State of Mobile report from analytics firm App Annie suggests around 143 billion dollars (£105 billion) was spent on mobile apps in 2020.

Time spent on apps in general, and in particular social networking apps, rose drastically, as millions of people looked to stay connected for work and to socialise with friends – according to the figures more than 218 billion apps were downloaded globally last year, up 7% on 2019.

TikTok, in particular, was highlighted as an app which had grown massively during 2020 by App Annie’s research.

The report said that among Android users in the UK, the average hours spent on TikTok each month had nearly doubled from 10.8 in 2019 to 19.8 in 2020.

App Annie said its findings suggested that the video-sharing app was on track to reach more than 1.2 billion active users globally this year.

Theodore Krantz, chief executive of App Annie, said the world had “forever changed” in 2020, sparking a major shift in how people used their devices.

“While people stay at home across the world, we saw mobile habits accelerate by three years,” he said.

And nowhere was this change more apparent than in older mobile device users, with the report finding that the biggest increase in mobile app usage had been among the over 45s.

In the UK, those aged 45 and over spent 27% more time using the most popular apps than in 2019, compared to 17% more time for millennials and 18% for those aged 24 and under.

TikTok, group video calling app Houseparty and messaging platform WhatsApp were named as the three apps to see the biggest growth in the UK during 2020, highlighting how people had turned to online communications tools in order to work and study, as well as stay in touch with friends and family while social distancing measures were in place.