Many of the Android apps we’ve recommended 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 two 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 (5.7 billion), Google Maps (5.9 billion), YouTube (10 billion), and a few others.
We’ve used AndroidRank’s data to determine these numbers. The numbers in parenthesis denote the placement change from July 2018, when we first published this list.
1. WhatsApp (+2)
5.875 billion downloads
In July 2018, WhatsApp was third with 2.9 billion downloads. Today, it has jumped into the top spot to overtake the previous leader, Facebook. This accomplishment is all the more surprising, given the app still lacks widespread popularity in the US.
Nonetheless, 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.
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.
Facebook Lite is one of the biggest winners in the updated list; it is up six places in the last 18 months and has doubled its total number of downloads.
Microsoft Excel is the first new entry on the list. It took the company a long time to make serious inroads into the mobile market (we won’t mention Windows Phone), but it’s now finally starting to find some traction.
It’s a bit surprising, however, that both Excel and PowerPoint have managed to amass more downloads than Word (though it’s close!).
Microsoft reinforces its growing importance in the Android app marketplace with the arrival of OneDrive in the top 20 most popular Android apps. OneDrive is popular amongst Windows users on Android thanks to its ability to access any file on your desktop (assuming you have set up access prior to leaving your home).
The OneDrive app also boasts security features such as biometrics and PIN codes to keep your data safe in the event that you lose your phone.
Whether Skype can still claim to be the best video-calling service is open to debate. However, after being the first such service that was widely adopted, it continues to benefit from significant brand recognition.
Its eight-place decline, combined with just 60 million more downloads over the last 18 months, suggests consumer interest could finally be on the wane.
The top 13 apps might not be to everyone’s taste, but it’s hard to claim there’s anything wrong with them. Clean Master is the first app on this list that you should avoid at all costs.
Why? First, the developer—Cheetah Mobile—is infamous for piling bloatware and nag screens into its apps. Second, it doesn’t do anything useful. RAM cleaners and task killers actively hurt your phone, so you should know how to properly manage memory on Android.
At the time of writing, Google had removed this app from the Play Store, so it may not appear on the list next time.
=15. Twitter (-8)
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1.000 billion downloads
It shouldn’t be a surprise to see social media apps have several entries in the list of the most popular Play Store downloads.
Twitter is now the fourth most popular social app. In 2018 it was third behind Facebook and Instagram, but Snapchat has also now leapfrogged it.
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.
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.
About The Author Dan Price (1386 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.
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