Mobile has become the ‘first screen’ and the time spent using apps has more than doubled since Q1 in 2014, app performance analytics company App Annie reports.

Exploring this space further, it has published a report on the most-used iOS apps in the UK, US and Japan in April 2016. Social networking and communication apps topped the list of those most used, with the study also revealing a growing popularity in local apps.

The iOS App Store is currently generating almost double the revenue of Google Play (90%), securing its position as a global leader in the space.

Top Apps

Smartphone users prioritise social network and communication apps across all the examined countries. Facebook and its Messenger service dominated the ranking, with WhatsApp the most used in the UK, and IM service LINE in Japan.

Some country-specific trends came with the BBC News app making the top ten in the UK, music streaming service Pandora eighth in the US, while Japanese users favour Yahoo’s local weather and transit apps.

Both YouTube and Google Maps appear to be app store staples across all three markets, and with m-commerce on an upwards trajectory, retail apps Amazon and eBay can also be spotted within certain market’s top ten most-used applications.

Surprisingly enough, despite strong app store revenue they bring in, game apps did not appear among the most popular ones in the research, suggesting entertainment takes an overall lesser share of mobile users’ time than communication.

Usage growth

A table on usage growth indicates which types of apps have gained increased popularity within the last year. Trends of note include the growth of homegrown apps within Japan, such as Yurekuru Call and MusicBox, amounting to seven of the total 10.

As wearables rise in popularity, so do apps supporting them. User growth for Fitbit put the app in the top 10 for both the US and the UK. Similarly, retail apps demonstrated strong growth with Amazon listed in the top five for the three countries.

As suggested by the study, usage is the ‘new currency’ in the world of mobile and its role is steadily growing in importance, setting trends for how companies evolve their app strategies globally.